I love it when God gives us divine coincidences, like Ballykissangel and the subject that just came up in my daily Bible time: confession! We had found it tough to find a current American TV show that we can both agree is worth watching together until we started watching shows from the United Kingdom, shows that took place in England, Scotland or Ireland, the locale for our most recent series: Ballykissangel. Now, lest you think I am recommending this for your family, you need to check it out. I do not think it is right for every family, but we watch with discrimination. This seemed to be one show that for the most part ended without making the viewer feel that he or she wished she hadn’t wasted their time.
It is set in a little Irish village thirty or so years ago, and one of the main characters is a Catholic priest struggling to mesh his faith and church practices with real life. And hearing and making regular confession is part of the role. Then this last week, confession showed up as the topic of study in my journey through Scripture.
Here’s my confession: confession has not had much a role in my life, at least not the role I think it might have had for my good. I believe Christ paid the death penalty for all of my sin. I don’t have to remember every sin to have his forgiveness; after all, I am a flawed human being and I probably don’t even see some of the things that creep into my life as sin. So there’s that for starters.
Then, for so long, my faith tradition focused on several “big” sins: sexual immorality, smoking and drinking and (until the last decades or so) movies, and the usual lying and stealing and coveting (but not so much this one). I guess those are the biggies. And those sins had not given me all that much trouble.
I always taught that confession did not get rid of sin; Christ’s death and resurrection did that. Accepting the gift of salvation through Christ took care of it all. Confession restored broken relationships, like when a child admitted he or she stole the balloon out of the cereal box (I really did that). After confessing to it, the child no longer felt the guilt or shame and fellowship with the family was renewed.
Confession today renews fellowship, with us and the people we offend, but also with us and God. There is something about knowing that we have let God down that messes with our relationship. We have less and less an appetite to be with him because we know how we have failed him, and the little can get very big, like a fire left untamed. So, a prayerful review of our day is valuable. I say prayerful because we are inviting God to bring to our minds those things we have done that might come between us and Him or between us and our usefulness for Him (and those two might be the same).
We don’t have to go to confession once a week, but maybe it would be good if we did, or once a day even, if we had that regular and public reminder to give our lives the once over in God’s presence. The point is not to get rid of sin, but to nourish our relationship with the One Who has taken care of our sin.