Sunday, October 2, 2011

Celebration of Discipline

I enjoy reading.  I read several kinds of books.  I like history, I like fiction, I like "Christian Help" kind of books.

But sometimes it's just hard to get through a book.  That was often the case when I was in Seminary.  I spent the better part of three years being told by someone else what to read.  The first thing I bought after graduation was a big, fat fantasy novel with dragons and elves and magic!

Celebration of Disciple is an assigned read.  It's part of my preparation for going overseas with International Teams.  It's the kind of book that I should be able to devour in a day and spit out the book review in under an hour!

That hasn't been the case.  I've had a terrible time getting "into it".  I've been chipping away at it for a couple months and I'm still not finished with it.

But something blogworthy (in my opinion) happened today.  I read the chapter on "Confession".  And as I was beginning the chapter on "Confession", I have to "confess" that I didn't think I'd like it too much.

I was wrong.  I wish I would have read it three years ago.  (In fact, I'm not sure how I escaped reading this book at some point in the past anyway.   It may have been one of those books I sleepwalked through when I was in Seminary!)

Here are some excerpts from the chapter on Confession through which the Lord really spoke to me this afternoon:

"The followers of Jesus Christ have been given the authority to receive the confession of sin and to forgive it in his name (Jn 20:33).... Why do we shy away from such a life-giving ministry?  If we, not out of merit but sheer grace, have been given the authority to set others free, how dare we withhold this great gift!"

Counsel in the Giving of a Confession

"A generalized confession may save us from humiliation and shame, but it will not ignite inner healing."

"Then there is the practical matter of to whom we should go to confess.  It is quite correct theologically to say that every Christian believer can receive the confession of another, but not every Christian believer will have sufficient empathy and understanding.  Though it is unfortunate, it is a fact of life that some people seem unable to keep a confidence."

Counsel in the Receiving of a Confession

"We begin by learning to live under the Cross.  Bonhoeffer writes, "Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him.  Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother."  This is the one thing that will save us from ever being offended in the confession of another.  It forever delivers us from conveying any attitude of superiority.  We know the deceptiveness of the human heart, and we know the grace and mercy of God's acceptance.  Once we see the awfulness of sin we know that, regardless of what others have done, we ourselves are the chief of sinners.  Therefore, there is nothing that anyone can say that will disturb us.  Nothing.  By living under the cross we can hear the worst possible things from the best possible people without so much as batting an eyelash."

That chapter alone was worth the price of admission!

It reminds me why I think something like "Celebrate Recovery" ought to replace every Adult Sunday School Class in every Baptist Church.  And it reminds me why I like Derek Webb's "House Show" CD (where he preaches a LOT about being real and transparent).  You can't live in the "light" unless you can put your crap on the table.  It's a better way to live, folks...if you can find a safe place (and safe people) in which to practice this particular discipline.


Vickie (Clinton's sister) said...

wow... i want to read this book... and I want to be a safe person...

Karebear said...

Clinton, I found this book to often be a hard one to get through too! But it definitely is worth the read. Keep it up!