Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Community and Confession

When I was a pastor, I taught a path of discipleship that involves daily confession with our mentors-student-friends. The walk of a disciple in discipleship relationships requires a level of honesty that is essentially total exposure.

One night after a council meeting at the church I was pasturing, a council member said to me, in reference to the practice of daily confessing relationships, “Brad, no one is going to do that”. I have thought about this statement many times. To me it is one of the most discouraging things I have ever heard. Being rigorously honest is a difficult path but to simply say as a matter of fact “we aren’t going to be honest and open” is certain death along the spiritual journey. I picture a man on a quest to climb Everest and finally just quits and says, “I am going to just sit here. I am not going to move. I quit.” Such a decision is certain death as the 3nvironmental effects will overtake the lethargic body and the man will die - so too the disciple who ceases the practice of daily honesty and confession.

All the teacher can do is try to model this level of openness in his own relationships or he could take the real leap to make it happen.

The Leap into Community
For some of us this total honesty is too much work. We lead busy lives and have trouble bracketing time to pray and confess with our mentor-student-friends. We can confess and be open with our spouses but we find it hard to be consistent with partners outside the home. How do we really let people into our lives? The answer is really pretty obvious. We let people live with us in our homes. Our culture’s way of life places walls between families and fellow men or women with whom we desperately need to be open with. The answer is to simply go around the walls and live within the same walls.

The multi-family living situation is I believe necessary to effective discipleship. The few men I attempt to maintain confessing relationships with are busy and lead separate lives with their families. Why?? Do we live this way? As we attempt to confess and walk out our spiritual lives together, we lose contact for most of the week. The whole process is undermined by the structure of our living situations. The answer is to force the change by living in community.

Community and Exposure
Most Christians I know have pretty well manicured homes and gardens. The outside looks very orderly and well managed. This I believe is often a sign of our spiritual poverty. I often find that the more together someone looks on the outside the more sick they are on the inside. Of course the mentally ill provide exceptions to this rule but I am not talking about mental illness but spiritual illness. The well-manicured lawn, so to speak, is often an attempt maintain a wall of protection against judgments. Community has the opposite effect. When we live in community, our friends now see how we raise our kids, how we treat our wives and every tension that exists in our significant relationships. Community is confession without words. So if you are having trouble living a life of open confession, take the leap. Sell your house and move in with another family or two in your church. In doing so, we just might find that our sins are washed away and our sickness cured by the daily walk of confession and exposure that such a new way of life imposes upon us due to our new living arraignment.

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