Confession & Repentance

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. 

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Generally we think that a life of discipline must mean drudgery, painful practices and boring, empty motions. But this is not so! Spiritual practices are a way of experiencing the truth of the Gospel—that God is good, forgiving, present, and has done everything needed to secure our joy in Him forever! An approach to spiritual practices that does not give birth to joy is empty and entirely unbiblical.

Celebration is a central practice of the Christian life because we have very, very much to rejoice in! God is constantly providing good things for us, both magnificent and simple. Relationships, sunrises, birdsongs, forgiveness, coffee, careers, friends—all come from the hand of God!

Celebration is a very serious practice. It is not a superficial time for having fun “just because.” It is the intentional pursuit of a deep recognition of God’s goodness, through meaningful, weighty expression of joy. That’s not easy! It takes thought, care, planning, time. But intentional celebration gives us a deep sense of God’s goodness. 

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Welcoming the Stranger

The Bible makes clear that God’s heart is with the outcast, the marginalized, the alien and stranger. He calls us to be with them as well, to make room in our lives for those who have no place to rest. This practice has been central to Christians throughout Church history because of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 25 that, when we feed the hungry and care for the needy, we are caring directly for Him. This practice, then, is a way of welcoming Jesus into our midst as we welcome those He loves.

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