When God pricks our consciences and brings us to the point where we can see our sin, hate our sin, confess our sin, and turn from our sin and turn to Christ, it is one of the surest signs of the work of the Holy Spirit.
But not all confession is created equal. Confessing faults we don’t really see, just to get people off our backs, is duplicitous. Confessing sins that aren’t really sins is the sign of a conscience gone awry. And confessing the mistakes and moral blindness of others usually amounts to tendentious manipulation. It may be from the best of intentions (or it may not), but it is a dangerous thing to loudly confess a host of sins we have not committed and for which we are not individually, or even corporately, responsible.
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New friend Michael Kelley has a new book coming out, Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life. Recently he shared a bit about the book:
I wrote it because this is my story. It’s probably yours, too, at least in some respect. The truth is that we will all spend 90% of our time here on earth just doing life. Just being ordinary. Changing diapers, going to work, paying taxes – stuff like that.
If this were a self-help book, I might follow that realistic, slightly demotivating statement up with something like: “Break out of the ordinary. Pursue your bliss. Go skydiving. Do something important. Carpe diem.” The same motivation, in Christian terms, might read: “God’s will is that you have a life of adventure. Get out there and make an eternal difference. Do something big for God.”
All of those statements are true in a sense; all of them can be appropriate. What those statements communicate is that we should be focused on Jesus and expanding His kingdom. That should be our priority. Those statements challenge us to recognize that we only have a limited time here on earth, so we need to make sure we spend our time doing things that matter. However, implicit in an exhortation like “do something big for God” is the notion that we are currently not doing stuff that matters, and we have to abandon that insignificant stuff to break out of the rut … chase the dream … be the man … overcome obscurity … all that stuff.
By now you’ve probably heard of Riley Cooper. Until last week, Cooper’s was a name known only to die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans; now it’s a household word. Last week, a video surfaced of a drunk Cooper (who is white) using a racial slur (the racial slur) while claiming he wanted to fight all of the African-Americans at a Kenny Chesney concert.
In a statement following the video’s appearance on the internet, Cooper said, “I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie, to [General Manager] Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
To most observers, Cooper seems sincere and legitimately contrite. Only God knows, of course. But it’s not the quality of Cooper’s apology that interests me, it’s the reaction of Cooper’s teammates to the apology.
Geoff and Christine are thirty-something churchgoers who love Jesus and love their three kids. They consider themselves faithful members of New Life Community Church.
Their oldest is about to be in the youth group, and their youngest is finally out of diapers. Christine has been involved in the kids’ ministry through the years. Geoff is a deacon.
But they are part-timers when it comes to church attendance, and they never set out to be.
They are not alone.