Confession is a part of community life that too often goes overlooked, because it is often associated with public shame. Yet there is little more restorative to the human soul than being known and accepted in our weakness. The word for confession used in the New Testament, homologeō, means “to say the same.” In confession we are saying the same thing God does—about our failures, yes, but also about ourselves. We acknowledge the error and brokeness of our ways, but we also confess that we are new in Christ, loved by God, and meant for abudant life. It is leaving off this second part of confession that makes it seem often dreary.
Confession goes hand in hand with repentance, a word used in the Gospels to mean “look again!” Repentance precipitates a change in behavior by giving us a glimpse of a truer, better reality into which we can choose to live. We say the same as God in confession; we envision God’s love enabling us to grow in repentance.
This practice is intended for use in a community marked by safety, trust and maturity. These matters are delicate and must be handled with the same kind of love with which God has loved us.