But you do, if you’re Christian.
I don’t mean incense and chanting. Just this – talking to God (and others). Saying, “I did something wrong and I’m sorry.”
I say ‘just.’ But it’s a choking word, ‘sorry.’ Spiky and tickly. Burns in the stomach. Sticks in the throat.
But nonetheless, essential.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Ps 32: 3-7)
The world absolves us by denying the problem of sin or by blaming it on someone else. The world says:
1. there’s no issue here
2. it’s someone else’s fault
3. hang on to your rights
4. don’t accept responsibility.
There’s just one problem with this approach, and it’s this – sin is real. Not ‘free-floating’ real, like exhaust fumes or wood smoke. ‘In us’ real, like blood and bones.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re all ‘sinners.’ It separates us from God. And when we ignore it, it doesn’t quietly slink away . It spills on others in anger. We drink it and it tastes of guilt.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.(Psalm 32:1-2)
We don’t like the word ‘sin.’ And we don’t like the word ‘sorry.’ But do we want soothing platitiudes – or the truth that brings freedom and life?
The world can’t heal something it won’t admit exists.
The world can’t remove something it blames on someone else.
The world brings you a sweet tea, whilst you bleed to death in the street. “Everything’s fine” it says. “Drink this and forget.”
Jesus – the true doctor – sees our sickness and speaks it out loud. “You’re dying” He says. “And only in me can you find forgiveness and life.”
Image: Anotoni Tapies ‘Fusta amb samaretta’ (1971)