“Right” or wrong?
February 22, 2008
There’s something about confession that screams authenticity. Authenticity of course, is a desired trait these days, unless you’re a televangelist in need of a new jet, in which case, a lot of make-up is probably more important.
There’s also something about connecting that people want to do these days. I’m a huge fan of connecting as you might be able to see here, here, and here. Meeting people. Learning from people. Growing because of relationships with people. These are all very high on my list.
One problem with connecting with God or people is that those connections are inauthentic, or at best, surfacy, without confession.
Now when I say confession in this context, I don’t mean sitting in a booth sharing with some person you don’t know how you skipped church 6 times last year and you were mean to your aunt Thelma, though you probably should get that out. But when I use this term, I’m thinking more along the lines of the actual denotative definition. That confession is acknowledgment or admission.
So what are we confessing?
For starters, we could confess or acknowledge or admit that we need something more than what we can supply in and of ourselves and that’s why we desire to connect with God and/or other people.
I believe this is an excellent starting point.
“Hi, my name’s Bob. What’s yours?”
“Hi, Bob. I’m John. I don’t have a lot to offer you. I probably could use your help in so many areas. I’m a work in progress. I don’t have all the answers. Whenever I meet other people, my mind races as to whether or not they like me or even want to have any kind of a conversation with me. In fact, I’m thinking it right now Bob, but let’s not talk about that. Also, you’re much more successful by so many standards than I am, so I’m thinking there’s no more I can offer you in our relationship. So…Any last words before I leave?”
“Of course, I do, because I’m the man. There’s nothing wrong with me. You’re right. I am successful and I am looked up to by the fledgling likes of you. I am not a work in progress, I am finished. The perfect superhuman minus the costume, because my wardrobe is impeccable and costumes are for halloween, hardly a normal holiday for adults, unless you worship Satan, which I don’t because, once again, I’m the man. See you later John.”
“See you later Bob.”
Okay, so maybe confession is not all there is. Perhaps admitting the truth is not the only remedy. In fact, as Peter De Vries said, “Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff – it is a palliative rather than a remedy.”
So perhaps there’s more along the path to connecting authentically than simply confessing, maybe there’s repentance. Not only do I not, not know everything or have it all down, and not only am I admitting this, but now, I’m telling God, or you, or whoever, that I’m going to make it my lifes goal to make it right, possibly even to do whatever is necessary to take the issues I have admitted to you and work on them.
So in between confessing, or admitting that I’m not the end-all, and connecting authentically in a way that I really desire to, is nothing more than an act or acts of contriteness. Having that sense of needing something outside of myself to make it, and then actually desiring that “rightness.”
Sometimes we’re afraid of “rightness” or “righteousness” because it has been hijacked for millennia by power hungry pharoahs, kings, czars, caesars, presidents, popes, priests, and pastors who use the term and principles as a means to the end of power, control, and riches. The problem being that “rightness” is an internal quality, not different than love or peace, that God gives each of us to truly succeed in this world that He has created. Granted like the aforementioned qualitites, it has exterior effects that show us the “rightness” of our actions, but the effects are not the sole measure for what is right, just as giving a gift is not the sole measure for love.
Other times we just want to be who we want to be without any use for “rightness”. This happens where I’m from in New England and in the deep, deep south all the time. A New Englander or a southerner with a hard personality wants to be honest and authentic, no matter who it might hurt in the process. Because “I gotta be who I gotta be Motty.” There’s no good reply to this except to walk away from that relationship for fear of bluntness standing in the way of “rightness”
I think “Rightness” is what we lack in our culture today. We want to confess. We really want to connect. Perhaps we just don’t know how to make the jump?
Until next time…