Lent is here, again. And once again I’ve struggled to come up with something to give up for these 40 days. But inspiration struck Sunday evening during a sermon on confession: this Lent, I am letting go of my sin.
Ok, Kelsey, wow that sounds amazing. Pretty sure that if you’re a Christian, Kelsey, Jesus already took care of that part. Like permanently. So you’ve got no worries.
You’re absolutely right. Jesus has taken care of that.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret: sometimes I don’t act like I’m a Christian liberated from sin.
Sometimes, I hang on to that sin and wallow in it. Why? Because letting that sin go may hurt. Some sins I keep buried down deep, secrets I keep hidden from the world and from God. And confessing to that sin and asking for forgiveness could hurt, a lot. So instead of confessing, I keep quiet.
Say the word aloud and savor the taste of it on your tongue for a moment. It’s not necessarily the best tasting word is it? It’s kind of salty, a little bitter, definitely not pleasant.
Unfortunately, this bitter flavor is a result of history and culture, and not in fact the word (or act) itself. Our culture has warped the word into a painful experience of admitting the bad things you’ve done aloud for everyone to hear and potentially judge. Which is why we avoid it so much! Instead, we end our prayers with “Lord, forgive us of all our sins” and we flippantly throw “I’m sorry, please forgive me” around. But this is only to avoid the actual act of confessing, using the blanket petition for forgiveness to cover the fact that we never confessed what we did wrong.
Let’s go back to the root: God designed confession as an act of healing, not punishment. We confess our sins to him, not because he needs to hear it but because we do. By confessing aloud and admitting to the fact that we have failed in some manner and owning that, we are allowed to let that go and make room for God’s grace.
Which brings me to Judas.
Yes, the Judas. Judas Iscariot, one of the chosen 12, was a man who sinned. He was a man who knew that he had betrayed a good and honest man, a man who knew he had led his friend to his death. Judas knew full well the act of treachery he had committed, and in the end hated himself for it. Jesus offered Judas healing and peace, but Judas couldn’t accept it. Instead of confession and forgiveness, instead of choosing his Lord and Life who was standing right in front of him, he chose to hold on to his failure and suffer in his misery. Eventually, this led to Judas committing suicide.
His story breaks my heart. He was this close to getting the big picture but just couldn’t see it. I wish he had accepted God’s grace and forgiveness–it truly would have been a powerful story of redemption. I want Judas to be forgiven, to be saved. But instead, we get a story of how strong a person’s guilt and attachment to sin can be in overriding our acceptance of God’s forgiveness and love.
I don’t want to end up like Judas did. I don’t want to wallow miserably in my sin, choosing suffering over joy. I know full well that I am a broken daughter of God who sins every day. BUT, I am a daughter of God, liberated through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
So during this time of Lent, I am actively choosing Life every day by confessing my wrongdoings, letting my sins, my failures and my brokenness go, and making room for God’s grace.