A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend who was asking me about what I really appreciated about City Pres. That wasn’t difficult. It’s the best church I’ve been a part of. I love it.
I started telling him about the incredible spirit of confession and repentance among the people right now. I told him how it’s really unusual to see this growing friendship, the openness and honesty, the listening and care. I shared a few examples about husbands confessing pornography to wives, about singles (men and women) asking me to help them with internet and phone blockers and sad about masturbation, about families dealing with real and true issues with their children. Women talking about sexuality in a helpful, healthy way. Men sharing painful stories but seeing hope and freedom.
He asked me about what works. What did I give them. What resources I’ve found to be helpful. What will keep people from sinning again. What works?
I stammered for a little bit. To be honest I’m not sure exactly what exactly works. I think there are good programs like Setting Captives Free. I think Net Nanny and Covenant Eyes and Safe Eyes and Intego have great blockers and every person should have on. I think care plans are important so people have practical steps to change over a period of time.
But does it work? As in – keep people from sinning? No. No, it doesn’t work. I guess not.
I don’t say that either flippantly or resignedly. I wish we could bang out these steps and actually see change in our hearts and in our behavior. And I’m not content to let sin reign. I want freedom.
I do think, however, that people are incredibly complicated and that each of these sins are a part of a whole, huge story that we believe and find ourselves in. I don’t think sin is just one thing, but a whole huge matrix of a million things. Therefore change is real and true and possible – and complicated. There is a peace. There is deliverance. But that usually doesn’t come from one decision. It can be helped by some basic decisions that will help us sort it out and change. Jesus at work, and he does and can and will go all the way down to deliver and heal.
And I also think that change comes through confession and repentance. What works? That. Jesus works. His forgiveness. His love. His goodness. His church.
We just don’t do it very often. We don’t see it modeled. We don’t like it when someone actually and truly confesses and repents to us. We don’t want to help people who keep on confessing and repenting. We’re scared to confess and repent. We feel too ashamed. We feel too judged. We feel too needy. We feel too self-righteous, or we liked it when we could.
I think it is working when we have a community of people who are willing to listen and help and talk and confess and repent and wait and hope and believe and walk with and preach the gospel and get dirty and invite and share and do that all over and over and over. To me – that feels different. It feels honest and true. It feels hopeful. It feels scary in a good way. It feels like it might work. I’m pretty sure that most other ways haven’t worked, at least not really.