Last week we talked about community. In my closing, I made a statement about joining groups or working in ministry so that you have a group of people to know on a deeper level. The original sentence was something along the lines of “join groups or work in ministry so that you are acquainted with people who may be fighting the same battles as you or have been where you are” but in editing, my team (my wife) decided we should be a little more concise. Little did she or I know that this week we were going to be discussing those things specifically. It’s amazing when God can work through your spouse to set you up sometimes.
This week we are going to look at a passage in the book of James, chapter 5 and verse 16. The New Living Translation says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” If you were raised on the King James Version, this is the often quoted verse, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Here is some context, this section of this chapter is talking about prayer. It begins with James telling us if we are suffering hardships that we should pray and if we are happy we should be singing praises and if we are sick then we should have the elders pray over us but regardless of the state or condition, you should be in communication with God. This week we will discuss community and the ability to be vulnerable.
So often we think that vulnerability equates weakness. The reality is that vulnerability and confession is biblical. The first step to Christianity is something we hear probably every Sunday during alter call, “if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you are saved.” Even the act of baptism is a type of confession, both of those things are an outward showing of an internal decision. It makes sense then that confession doesn’t stop there because although your soul is saved, your flesh is not and there is a constant battle going on within each of us. With that being said, sin is a natural part of each one of us and confession and repentance is part of redemption.
In James we see that we are to confess our sins to each other, not because we can forgive each other for our sins or anything like that but because there is accountability in community. When others know where our weakness is they can stand in the gap and be praying for your strength in that area. If someone is addicted to pornography, you probably don’t have to pray against drugs but you will have to pray against the spirit of lust and sexual immorality. But how can your community know where to cover you in prayer if you don’t open up to them.
I want to wrap up by saying, vulnerability and confession should not feel hard. While I understand that it is difficult to begin to open up to someone else spiritually and even emotionally, you will see that once you have done so, and you have your community in your corner, it is actually a blessing. Community is important in general for the good things like relationship and support but also when you are struggling, or have a need, they are there to help you carry that weight and ultimately, hopefully help you carry it to Jesus and leave the burden with him. I would urge you to read the entire chapter of Psalm 32 but I am going to close with the first and second verse. It says, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what what joy for those record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”