Romans 10: 9-10 (NIV)
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
James 5:16 (NIV)
16 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.
In this series, we will be taking time to grow deeper in our understanding of Christ-centered community by focusing on four aspects of how what we say makes a profound impacts on the depth of the relationships we have with those around us. This week, we turn our attention to the idea of confession as a viable pathway to healthier, deeper, more meaningful community.
Often, we carry so much on our hearts we believe we are the only ones who are struggling amidst the pain of this world. Until we are willing to courageously speak to someone else about what ails us, the power that confession has to radically change our own heart and the hearts of those around us cannot be set free. God uses our words to speak deep truth to those who need it most, and often that impact becomes clear when communities are willing to be open and honest with one another about what they believe, and how they have failed. Confession matters because our stories, told truthfully, are great news to those both near and far from God.
As we open up to the idea of community, we often neglect the thought that committing to growing into more meaningful relationships could require us to expose ourselves; something we often so desperately resist. Think about some of the community you may have surrounded yourself with. Do you feel you would be willing to open up about your own struggles or tell the truth about what you believe within the confines of that group?
If there really is such power in our words, then why do people feel it’s so necessary to always speak? Sometimes, no words are best and sometimes the words we speak are conduits of God’s grace and mercy. How does it make you feel when you think about the power that rests in your words? Do you think this perspective would make you more actively engaged in what you are saying to others?
By making confessions of our faith and our faults we are stepping into territory that is awash with risk and danger. However, these steps can often lead to profound leaps into making Christ-centered community into a reality formed by God. Think about how you have interacted with the idea of confession within your community. Have there been positive implications? Negative ones? How has the nature of confession evolved within your community or communities?
Read Romans 10: 9-10. The word “confession” often carries a hearty amount of negative stigma. This is partly due to a misuse of the word both within the church and within pop culture. This definition usually leaves us believing that confession is a guilt-ridden process that involves a “holy” person making a judgement on how best to move forward following our failure. According to Romans 10: 9-10 the word confession (declaration in NIV) has a much more significant meaning. What are some definitions of confession you have carried with you?
How does this verse shift your perspective on the meaning of confession? Do you think Paul’s description of confession carries significance? What is that significance?
The idea that corporate confession plays an active role in the understanding of our salvation through Christ can be difficult to grasp, but participation in corporate confession can have significant impacts on affirming what we believe. Considering corporate confession, what moments in your story can you recall that helped affirm what you believed? Were there any that caused you to doubt your beliefs?
Read James 5:16. Here we are challenged to speak truth about our faults to one another without delay. There is a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that says, “he who is alone in his sin is utterly alone.” Considering what James said, do you think there is truth in what Bonhoeffer said? How does confession lead us out of isolation?
Confession is naturally one of the most difficult aspects of community. Take a few moments to think quietly about some things that you may be carrying around that make you feel alone. Sometimes it takes slowing down enough to remember what it is about us that truly needs saving, but in that we grow deeper in our understanding of God’s grace. When you are ready, and if you feel comfortable in doing so, share some of your struggles from the week with your group.
If you find yourself to be alone in your pain, struggle and sadness, we encourage you to find a community that can come alongside you and walk you through such a time. Connect Groups are a great place to step into Christ-centered community, and we would highly recommend you take that bold step into community. If you are interested in joining a connect group you can contact, find more information here.
If you are currently in a Connect Group, take some time this week to dig into how your group deals with confession. Think about ways that can make your group more conducive for those struggling to open up about their hurts. Keep track of your thoughts, and when you meet with your group next, share what you came up with.