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 Transformation: Confession and Vulnerability, the Heart of Community

Transformation Blog: Readings from Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus



Transformation: Confession and Vulnerability, the Heart of Community

Brandon Cook

Jesus lived out his life in community.  For us, as his disciples, we can both love and encourage others while fueling our own transformation by making our confession and repentance communal.  We can see our confession as a powerful way of giving—the sharing of our story and our struggle, for our benefit and the benefit of another.  When we give ourselves permission to share vulnerably, we give others permission and empower them to do the same.  Haven’t you experienced that if you go first, people will often (though, yes, not always) follow?  We are always, through our own posture, giving people green lights or putting up “stop” signs. 

This is the beautiful two-way street of confession and repentance.  Through it, we empower ourselves and those we love to live in freedom.  Paul tells us to bring into the light that which has been in darkness, and James tells us to confess our sins to one another, that we may be healed.[1]  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, conversely, that “your sin wants to be alone with you.”  If it’s in the dark, where it stays safe because of your shame or fear of exposure, it can control you.  This bondage is released by light, and this must be communal sharing of light.  Have you ever noticed that talking about something can lessen its grip?  Similarly, I’ve learned to not try to come up with answers for people, even thought that makes me feel useful, because usually what they need is simply someone who will listen without obsessing about how to respond.  

But the word "sin" may keep us limited in our understanding of confession.  Confession extends far beyond sin and just the things we deem "morally bad."  It's about a posture of sharing our struggles, our fears, the places we want to hide or are embarrassed about.  The more light we are willing to let into those places, the more freedom we will enjoy.  The spiritual life always takes great courage, which is why it far transcends mere religion, which is always about covering up and hiding.  

Living in community, on the other hand, takes vulnerability and humility.  It is this posture of humility which can become habitual, until you are giving not only your confession but also your time, energy, money, and resources away to others.  This is exactly what Jesus desires for us!  In this posture, we are open to fully receiving and taking joy in the coming of the Kingdom of God, right here and now.

So…will we have the courage and the characters to live in the light?  What are the things you want to keep secret or hidden?  Are we willing to bring those things to Jesus and to others, and to see what happens when we bring them into reality?  

[1] Ephesians 5:11-14 and James 5:16

[2] Romans 2:4