By Jaime Nava –
As a pastor and sinner, there’s an unspeakable privilege in the office I’m called to. God’s Word comes through my unclean lips. Each week, we commune on the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine because the promise was spoken. The Words of Jesus echoed once again for sinners to hear, see, and taste forgiveness. To be able to place eternal life into people’s mouths is something I am certainly not worthy of. Despite that, here I am doing what the congregation called me to do. And I’m not alone. The people, those I shepherd for the Good Shepherd, go out into the world. They speak forgiveness to each other. They unlock the heavenly gifts of life by letting wrongs go. They, and you also, have the immense privilege of revealing what our Father looks and sounds like when they tell someone “I forgive you.” This is especially true when it’s undeserved—said aloud or in the heart. This is incredible.
One way we share this unbelievable gift is through confession. When someone unloads the weight of guilt and shame and lays it at my feet, I tell them something very clearly and plainly, as God’s own Word says, “You are forgiven.” We call this confession and absolution. They go together. You don’t add or take away from it. There are no other steps beyond laying out our failings and in exchange receiving the Word of eternal life. Alleluia!
When we confess, we’re simply telling God what He first told us. We say we’re a poor miserable sinner because the Law has revealed that to us. So we tell God what His Word says, “You’re right, God. I am a sinner.” That’s confession. It’s an echo. Speaking to a fellow pastor, he said something that triggered a thought. Like I said above, confession always has absolution, so we speak our confession, and in return, God speaks to us. They are words of life and love and peace. Jesus took your sins. He paid the penalty. Your death was His, and His life is now yours. What this pastor said was that God also makes a confession to us. He speaks His own Word back at us. Where we reflect that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, the Father confesses that your sins are forgiven. It’s a divine dialogue. We bare our souls, and God says He loves us.
We can keep the language of confession and absolution, but maybe we can also think of it as confession and confession. This might be a good reminder that the Word which God put into our mouths of confession doesn’t return empty. Instead, God speaks right back to us that, no matter how dark our souls and no matter how deep our depravity, He can reach us. He cleanses us and garbs us in His own Son. Of course, we can ask God alone for forgiveness, and He certainly hears it. He dearly wants you to hear what He has to say in return. He wants you to hear His confession, too. He wants to speak His Word to you, “I forgive you all your sins.”
If you feel burdened by sin, should you be carrying anger against someone, or if your dark deed won’t let you sleep, seek out your pastor. Lay your muck at rail for the light of day. What you will hear from God is His amazing confession. You are righteous and holy in His sight, like a bride to a groom. He will confess that He has made you into a new creation. You are still His child whom He declares to the world as precious. What a wonder God’s confession is in Christ. That’s the beauty of Confession and Confession.