Without question, my least favorite part of worship service is the prayer of confession. Although the period of personal confession lasts only a few seconds, I dread it. Why?Because I have to face the ugliness of myself. I have to admit to myself and to God that I am weak, imperfect and a sinner. God already knows that. Truth is, I know it, too. But admitting it, taking ownership of my failings and shortcomings… that’s tough!
It would be OK with me if we’d just skip the prayer of confession and stay with the joyful parts of worship.
Or would it?
What purpose does worship serve if I am separated from God by sin? Wouldn’t that be the very height of hypocrisy? I simply can’t hide, ignore, rationalize or do other things to keep from facing my own shortcomings and be reconciled with God.
“Forgive our (my) trespasses as we (I) forgive those who trespass against us (me).”
For most of us, the one person we have the most difficulty forgiving is ourselves. Why?
First, we do have to recognize, acknowledge and come face to face with our ugliness. None of us wants to be seen or to see ourselves as ugly.
Second, it’s easy to “blame” others for wrongs. But blaming ourselves? Uh, that leads to other things that are hard:
We have to accept responsibility for our wrongs. “I caused that, and it hurts!” That means I’ve disappointed…someone else, myself and God. The Bible calls this grieving. That means I have to say “I’m sorry.” It’s not always easy to say “I’m sorry” because it reveals my ugliness.
That’s still not enough. Now I also have to be accountable. When I accept accountability, I have to pay a price. I have to take steps to make things right, to reconcile. I have to DO something. This few seconds of confession is become a lot of work, work I’d much rather not have to do. But if I don’t, the rest becomes rather meaningless, doesn’t it. I have to take ownership of my ugliness and fix it.
But that’s still not enough. I have to repent, to do all in my power to turn away from whatever is so ugly in my life… not the ugliness of the world, but the ugliness in ME! This has become very personal. I don’t like it much.
But these things are absolutely essential if I am to be right with God. I have to confess to the truth of my shortcomings, my ugliness. I have to accept both responsibility and accountability for these things. I have to turn away from those things that make me ugly.
Only then can I heal the wounds of my own shortcomings… OK, my sins! Only then am I able to forgive the one who is most difficult to forgive:
Alive in the Word