I just received the following from my friend Bob Skiffington. Bob and I have been friends for well over 20 years and are in a men’s group together. When Bob speaks I listen. And, in this case I believe it is important to share his words. RMF
Confession, Grace, and Healing
As somewhat of a dedicated people-pleaser, I am quite allergic to conflict. My strategy for dealing with conflict has been unwavering avoidance. Now, considering the volatile political atmosphere, that definitely seems to be the safest approach to take. But safe is not always right and maybe a hideout is not the best place to be right now, especially for followers of Christ.
In preparation for a small group Bible study on grace, I was formulating discussion questions for two chapters from a book by Max Lucado. One chapter dealt with the value and need for confession and the other chapter spoke of the sufficiency of God’s grace. In a moment of revelation, I felt hope for our nation based on an application of these two foundational principles from God’s Word. Instead of keeping these insights to myself, I decided to jump right into the fray, and share them with you.
The primary Bible verse came from John 1:7-9:
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Notice that this passage contains a series of “if/then” conditional statements. These are God’s promises. When looked at separately, I observed an application for a godly response to the troubles that are gripping our nation. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light – A relatively small number of people have dragged us into the dark. Although we are all sinners, there are some particularly evil people on both the right and the left who have incited heinous violence and terror. And, like a vacuum, these few people have sucked a tremendous number of otherwise reasonable people into unquestioned support and unyielding justification for their point of view while, at the same time, completely dismissing and disregarding any possibility of there being a morsel of truth in an alternate view. They have convinced us that there are two groups – Us and Them. Friends we have known for years as kind and compassionate people appear now on social media speaking shockingly harsh, insensitive, and vulgar words to each
other. It is true that we can be divided into two groups of people. However, the groups are not Us vs. Them but The Humble vs. The Proud. Humble people walk in the light and actively listen to what other people have to say, even if they don’t agree with them. There can be fellowship and dialogue between people with differing opinions. We can start by identifying all of the things we can agree on. There are many values that together we share and acts that we universally condemn. But when people are hurting, and they are, we need to humbly listen to them.
If we say we have no sin –
At some level, people on both sides are equally guilty of sin by thoughts, words, actions
inactions. One distinct caution sign indicating that you may be wrong is feeling
undeniably right. There are so many cognitive biases of which we are completely
shape and distort our thinking. It is completely normal, though not right, to see the sins
others while being totally blind to those in our own lives. Or, we might acknowledge
but consider them as insignificant in comparison to the sins of others. This is both the
the effect of the Us vs. Them division. A culture that accepts a philosophy affirming that
wrong done by one group is OK because the wrong done by the other group was worse
unsustainable and leads only to the downward spiral that we are now witnessing. Even
other side has a log in their eye, we still need to check our own eyes first. If we ask in
God will reveal the sin in our life. If say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the
not in us.
If we confess our sin –
When we are truthful and acknowledge the sin in our lives, our godly response will be
confession (admitting our wrongs) and repentance (reversing our direction). These are
foundational building blocks to move forward to forgiveness and reconciliation. Truthfully, when we are talking about imperfect people rather than God, forgiveness and restoration may not automatically be offered to those who confess and repent and if/when they are given, it may be so only after an extremely long and difficult process for the giver. The hurts are great and the healing painful but, if there is to be hope for our nation, people must humble themselves, admit their failures, and move forward in a better direction. God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from unrighteousness. And we can move forward. Some may prefer to hold on to their righteous anger and seek a measure of vengeance, sinking into deepening darkness, but I think most people really want things to get better. And there’s good news. God’s grace is sufficient to overcome our weaknesses and the people and powers that want to destroy us. If God is for us, who can be against us? From His fullness we have already received grace upon grace. God is willing and able to make ALL grace abound to you, so that having ALL sufficiency in ALL things at ALL times, you may abound in EVERY good work. Even the restoration of a crippled nation or a wounded soul.
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” Friends, that is the side I want to be on. A tree is known by its fruit. As author Brant Hansen notes, when the tree is shaken, you can look and see what kind of fruit falls. Is it anger, bitterness, and vengeance? Or is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Against such things there is no law.
As I write this, I wonder how it sounds to you. You may be ready to applaud the effort or condemn it. I hope I did not make any of this sound easy because I know it may well be the hardest thing that Americans will have done since the Civil War. We are fighting for liberty and justice for ALL. Personally, I must confess that while trying to avoid conflict, I have not spoken up for the injustices I have witnessed and have not reached out to those around me who may be suffering injustice and pain in silence. I have been far too dismissive of people with differing opinions. Seeing the sins in my own life is why I wrote this. For these things and others, I ask for forgiveness. I still have a long way to go. But, with God’s help, I will do better.
Please let Mercy and Grace lead us through this.