on confession and worship pt. 2

It’s a commonly held notion that we can’t live our lives based on emotions alone. That is to say, we can’t base our decisions and actions solely on what we feel, because what we feel is always changing. If we can’t trust our emotions to guide us, then where do we turn? Our minds? Wrong!

Our minds are just as fickle as our emotions, and quite often are actually slaves to our emotions.  As Cordelia Fine says in A Mind of Its Own, our brains are “vain, immoral, emotional, secretive, pigheaded, delusional, bigoted and vulnerable”.

So if we can’t trust our emotions, and our brains are equally untrustworthy, then who or what can we trust…

I believe that outside of us there is a God.  And I believe that that God is able to speak to us and guide us and reveal truth to us.  We may not always get it right.  We may quite often mistake our “voice” for his, but I believe that we are capable and that God can illuminate us with truth.  The key, however, is confession (see how I brought it back around?).

At the root of confession is humility; the ability to admit that we were/are wrong.  The pursuit for truth has to begin with a confession that we have this incredibly consistent ability to be wrong, to misunderstand, to be influenced by forces that we are likely unaware of.  To do this doesn’t require an all encompassing sense of guilt, simply just an acknowledgement.  And when we acknowledge this fallibleness within us, then we open the door for God to speak.

I can close my eyes and imagine how much of a difference this would make both in my worship and my worship leading if I began every service, every day with this kind of confession.  Because when I am willing to hold my ideas and my understanding with an open hand, because I know that there is more than what I can see and understand, then God is able to speak.

But confessing our need and fallibility, that’s just the first part of confession.  It’s not enough to just confess our failings and short comings; to stop there would make us a sad, mopey, defeated bunch (and no one wants to be around that).  We also need to confess who is able to overcome our failings, and who is able to lift us out of our sin.

In other words, the first part of confession is that, even at our best, we are insufficient.  The second part is confessing who is sufficient.

Romans 10:9 famously says, “If you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.  This verse has been used time and time again to lead people down the path of the “sinner’s prayer” (don’t get me started on that).  But this verse speaks to more than just “becoming a Christian”, it speaks to all of us who are Christians about the need to proclaim our need and our hope.

The confess that “Jesus is Lord” is not something that we do once and then move on from.  It is a confession that we need to make daily, to remind ourselves of who is “on the throne”, and who it is we are following.

Ultimately, humanity will always be moved by something other than ourselves, whether it be circumstance, environment, emotion, advertising… the list goes on.  It is not weakness to acknowledge this.  There is more to life and reality than we could ever truly understand.  To confess our need is honest.  To confess our hope in redemption through Christ (who is the epitome of goodness and love) is beautiful.  It is also the beginning of worship.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Allan says:

    Good thoughts Shawn. They reminded of some things I’ve been reading.
    “Absolutely nothing can inform, guide, and sustain radical and radiant goodness in the human being other than a true vision of God and worship based thereon. Only this vision can jerk the twisted condition of humanity right. Immanuel Kant said, ‘Nothing straight can be constructed from such warped wood as that which man is made of.’And humanly

    1. Allan says:

      i pressed send before finishing…oops.

  2. Allan says:

    Good thoughts Shawn. They reminded of some things I’ve been reading.
    “Absolutely nothing can inform, guide, and sustain radical and radiant goodness in the human being other than a true vision of God and worship based thereon. Only this vision can jerk the twisted condition of humanity right. Immanuel Kant said, ‘Nothing straight can be constructed from such warped wood as that which man is made of.’ And humanly speaking he was right. But what is impossible with men is possible with God….” (Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart)
    Your comment about the mind being easily mislead, delusional and such, was also reminiscent of what Dallas Willard calls “duplicity, deceitfulness, and darkness.” To say that the human faculties of mind and heart are feeble, fickle and broken is apt indeed.
    “The constant character of the will apart from God is duplicity – or, more accurately, fragmentation and multiplicity. It wills many things and they cannot be reconciled with each other. Turned away from God, thought and feeling fall into chaos, and the will, for reasons given above, cannot but follow. There is nothing outside it that can pull or push it right.” (Dallas Willard)
    The key is, as you said, right reflection and relationship on and with God. To whatever extent we allow Christ’s mind and character to be formed in us is the extent that our thoughts and our feelings with be made right and useful.

    1. shawnbaran says:

      Thanks Allan, great additional thoughts for the discussion. The Dallas Willard quotes, in turn, remind me of a summation that I heard on the theology of Thomas Cranmer which said “What the heart desires, the will chooses and the mind justifies”. Despite the fact that our hearts and minds are fickle there is a need for our hearts to be completely captured and renewed by God, because fear and obligation will never be enough to keep us faithful for the long haul.

      Anyways, thanks again for joining the discussion!

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