– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In confession the break-through to community takes place.  Sin demands to have a man by himself.  It withdraws him from the community.  The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.  Sins wants to remain unknown.  It shuns the light.  In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person.  This can happen even in the midst of a pious community.  In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart.  The sin must be brought into the light.  The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged.  All that is secret and hidden is openly manifest.  It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted…The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power.  It has been revealed and judged as sin.  It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder.  Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother.  He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God.  It has been taken away from him.  Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Now he can be a sinner and still enjoy the grace of God.  He can confess his sins and in this very act find fellowship for the first time.  The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him to find true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ…If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother he will never be alone again, anywhere…

 

 

“A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light…”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together).  While we may easily agree with the truth of this statement, the reality of it in the group life experience, we must sadly acknowledge, is nothing short of foreign.  At the March Leader’s Roundtable, we helped define confession and outlined four principles for handling confession in a small group.  If you weren’t there, I encourage you to “read up on these principles”:http://pvcommunitylife.wrodpress.com/ .  If you were there, this article: “Facing Shame Issues in Small Group, by Mark Bonham”:http://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2008/facingshameissuessmallgroup.html?start=1 would be a great follow-up to this essential practice of appropriate confession in your Community Group.  Bottom line, don’t just leave this as an interesting discussion—explore how will begin to create an environment that encourages and appreciates appropriate confession within the life of your group.

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