“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV.
Yesterday, I finally really got to know my neighbor across the street. I have been living in the same house for seven years in a tucked away suburb dead end street north of Austin. I have had powerful conversations and had the opportunity to share my faith with many of my neighbors, but Greg and I have only had surface interactions. Something amazing happened yesterday; Greg opened up to me about his long-time struggles with sin and addiction. He shared with me that he has recently rededicated his life to Jesus and now is walking closely with the Lord.
I began to share with Greg my testimony and my long history of trauma and addiction, and how Christ has freed me. Through shared confession and prayer, we mutually encouraged one another. Now I know that I have a brother in Christ right across the street who is praying for me and my family. What a blessing!
In his wonderful classic, The Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster shares how when we see the believing community as only a fellowship of Saints it can be shameful and difficult to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others, and how freeing it can be when we recognize that we are foremost sinners and confess our sins to one another. “But if we know that the people of God are first a fellowship of sinners, we are freed to hear the unconditional call of God’s love and to confess our needs openly before our brothers and sisters. We know we are not alone in our sin. The fear and pride that cling to us like barnacles cling to others also. We are sinners together. In acts of mutual confession we release the power that heals. Our humanity is no longer denied but transformed.”
It is this transforming power of confession that we see so often on programs with Ascend Outdoor Adventures. I have heard men confess deep moral failures around a campfire in the mountains with their brothers and have seen God subsequently heal them and restore their broken marriages. I have heard young women confess shame and regret and have seen them surrounded by their sisters and restored to wholeness and dignity. I am so grateful to be a part of a ministry that recognizes that as God’s children, we are both sinner and saint, and in our deep brokenness we can continually point one another to the forgiveness and restoration that is freely available in Christ. It is my prayer this week that you may be able to take part in the priesthood of believers, and share or receive a deeply needed confession with a brother or sister in Christ, and then pray for one another that you might be healed.