Wednesday, August 24, 2005

God working in confession

Dan at Cerulean Sanctum recalls his days at Wheaton and the secrets people keep in the Christian community. He said he was somewhat overwhelmed knowing the burden of sin so many carried while putting on their best face.

It's interesting timing, because something amazing happened at one of our friends' church on Sunday. An assistant pastor was welcomed back into the fold after leaving and falling into sin. The pastor preached on sin, on redemption in Christ, on restoration in the Body. Then the man got up and apologized to the church, confessed his sin, and asked to be restored as a member. He just wants to attend church and sit at the foot of the Cross. He was broken and contrite.

The pastor then took the mic as the man broke down and sat in a pew. People were expecting some kind of ceremonial "we love you and we welcome you back." Instead, the pastor looked intently into the audience and said, "OK, I know some of you out there are going through the same thing, the same kind of sin. You need to come forward and repent."

After a few seconds a 20-year-old man from the back row that people barely knew came to the front. He started the grab the mic and was prepared to confess as well, but the pastor just spoke to him quietly and prayed for him as he sought forgiveness. Then others started to come.

It didn't take long for half the church, about 100 people, to come forward. It was a full-blown church renewal. God has used the brokeness of this man to speak conviction into these people's hearts.

That night one of the more prominent members of the church called the pastor. This man told the pastor he had scheduled to commit suicide that night, that he had been despondent for months, and had been thinking about death ever since. That act of contrition changed his heart, and the Holy Spirit renewed him. He said he has been dramatically changed and has a new desire to live to honor God.

I believe there is a blessing on the Body when we choose to live transparently. Discipleship is not about forcing someone to obey, it's about people willingly submitting to each other, and people earnestly wanting to submit to God and obey. It only takes one person, led by the Spirit, to boldly speak the Word into our hearts, to shread our pride and our general lack of faith in the Body to not condemn us. It is God's fire called down to cleanse us.

I also believe it's possible for this kind of thing to spread. God isn't always doing the same thing everywhere at the same time, but renewal and revival tend to come in waves. If you have stories like this, I would love to hear them. Please post your stories in the comment section in this post.

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