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People were made for community. In the context of the local church, the cross reconciles us to Christ and unifies us to one another. The cross reveals the ugly and vile nature of our sin and the beautiful grace of Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together, says that “Sin demands to have a man by himself, “ and “Sin wants to remain unknown” (Bonhoeffer 112). Private sin in any community of believers creates walls that isolates one member from the others. The apostle James exhorted the Jews in the diaspora to, “Therefore confess your sins to one another…” (ESV James 5:16). If we are encouraged to be transparent with other Christians, why do we find it difficult to do so? Bonhoeffer inquires of his readers, “Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother” (Bonhoeffer 115)? Confessing our sins to one another is an act of humility that must be done so by looking at the cross.
The payment of Jesus’s blood on the cross has covered past, present, and future sins. Paul boldly and unapologetically proclaimed, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). As Christians we no longer live in this guilt and yet reality is that we still sin and hurt those that are around us. When we fully understand grace then we become desperate to confess our faults to one another. There have been many times in my life where I wronged a brother or sister in Christ and I did not want to admit my sin to them. Embarrassment, fear of man, and a hurt ego has often stood in the way of a sincere apology. When acts of sin are committed against others we sin against God. God is a holy and sinless God. Why then is it easier to confess our faults to God than one another? Taking up our cross and dying to self-daily inherently includes the duty of confession.
Under the cross all stand condemned equally. Before a righteous and holy God we all stand damned. By the grace of Christ Jesus we have been forgiven from sins cruel punishment. The cross unites believers because we recognize just how sinful we are and how wondrous the grace of God truly is. Confession of sin is a gospel opportunity. We confess, we forgive, and we rejoice in the God who has forgiven us. Self-justification often stands in the way of sharing our sins with one another. There is no room for such conceit at the cross. Jesus reminded his disciples to forgive one another as they have been forgiven by God. The cross reminds us of who we once were and who we are now.
Confessing our sin to others can be ugly because we see just how evil and dark our hearts are. But praise be to God who has brought light to shine in the dark crevices of our soul. As we celebrate this Christmas season, remember Jesus as the light of the world, remember the cross, remember the power of community, and remember the beauty of confession.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. New York: HarperOne, 1954.
Holy Bible: Esv Bible.Crossway Books. 2016
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