Several years ago, my church had a week-long study that involved different facets of discipleship each night. The night we focused on prayer, we were divided up into groups and sent into rooms all over the church. I was in a room with probably 15 or so other people, led by a woman no one seemed to know. Her name was Yetta.
Yetta led us through the following acrostic:
Adoration was a breeze. We all went around the room, each of us offering a praise to God.
Confession, not surprisingly, was something we all chose to pass on. We're Baptist, for crying out loud. We don't generally confess in public.
So we moved on to the letter "T", and went around the room again, each of use sharing something for which we were thankful.
Then we shifted gears to supplication, and each of us shared a prayer concern. That was easy because we were just completing an interim that had lasted a year. Our pastor of 35 years had retired the previous spring, and although it had not been planned this way, the week-long study fell right before a prospective pastor was coming in view of a call. (Southern Baptist churches are autonomous, and we choose our own pastors, unlike denominations where pastors are assigned to churches.) Naturally, many of us had prayer requests related to the selection of our new pastor.
I assume everyone else thought the same thing I thought at that point - that we were pretty much done.
Yetta had something else in mind though. She was determined to go back to the "C" in the ACTS acrostic...confession.
I remember thinking, "Surely she doesn't expect anyone in this group to confess to some sin in front of everyone else."
It soon became apparent that, yes, Yetta did expect at least one of us to confess to something. (I still wonder if she didn't think that once someone got the ball rolling, she could get all of us to start confessing.)
I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "You weren't raised Baptist, were ya?" I didn't have to bite it that hard, though, because I didn't want to do anything to draw attention to myself. I was already thinking of the worst sins I had ever committed, and I was fairly certain I did not have any desire to share them with the group.
Yetta asked, for what seemed like the 50th time, "Doesn't anyone have something they'd like to confess?" I've never been in a room with so many people staring uncomfortably at the floor. (Actually, I feel led to confess that's a lie, but it's also a topic for an entirely different post.)
I was torn between looking at the floor and casting furtive glances at other people in the room, hoping someone would come up with a way to end what was starting to feel like a hostage situation. I was sitting next to one of our staff members, and as he shifted in his chair, I thought, "Thank God, he's about to rescue us. He always knows exactly the right thing to say."
But, no, he remained silent. Uncharacteristically so, now that I think about it.
Again, Yetta suggested that surely someone had something they could confess.
By this point, I was starting to silently pray that God would hurry up and release us from Yetta's reign of terror. As I heard other people talking in the hall - people who had not been held captive - I began to consider confessing what I was thinking about Yetta at that point, but decided that probably wouldn't be the most tactful way out of the room.
Finally, one of the men spoke up, and said that sometimes, in the business world, he might have crossed the line into some gray areas. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving as he spoke.
It wasn't exactly earth shattering, but it was good enough for Yetta, who led a prayer for the young man and his confession, as well as all of our unspoken confessions. Then we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and made a run for the door.
I don't think I'm alone.We live in a nation full of Christians who appear to judge non-Christians more harshly than we judge ourselves. We think words like "wicked" are too harsh for the sins we commit, but plenty good for everyone else's sins. And we're sadly mistaken.
As followers of Christ, we are called by His name. We are held to a higher standard - the example that Christ set for us. Instead of judging the world, we should be looking in the mirror, examining ourselves. We should be asking God to show us the ways that we fail, and to lead us in the right ways. We should be seeking God with all of our hearts. We should be on our knees, confessing our sins to God. Like Yetta, He's patiently waiting for us to 'fess up.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14