Confession is hard. It requires that admit our faults, to ourselves, God, and others.
It’s so hard, in fact, that we don’t do a lot of it. Or we make token confessions and hope that God will do our dirty work for us and somehow erase not only the memory of our sin but the temptation to ever sin again.
That’s not how it works.
Repentance and redemption require that we do the heavy lifting – that we admit our wrongdoing and take action to overcome our weaknesses.
Just before Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead, he spoke to Mary, Martha, and others gathered around the tomb. The scene, I think, is a wonderful illustration of Christ’s power to raise us out of a life of sin… given that we’re willing to work alongside him. Here’s how it went down, as chronicled in John chapter 11:
38 Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Aren’t we just like Martha when it comes to our sin? Jesus has come to help us, come to raise us from a life of sin, but we’re too ashamed that other people might smell the stench of our messy lives to let him work in us.
I love that Jesus, powerful enough to raise a man from the dead, asks Martha, Mary, and others gathered at Lazarus’ tomb to move the stone for him. As if he couldn’t have done it himself. But there’s power in the rolling of the stone. Just like there’s power to be had in working with Christ to overcome your sins, rather than just praying that he’ll do it for you.
Oasis Church – where PJ and I serve – is experiencing a revival of sorts. Over the last few weeks our services have been marked by our members’ beautiful, powerful, and vulnerable expressions of confession and prayer. It’s great to see people humbling themselves before God and their fellow believers, leaning on them for strength in order to battle their own weaknesses.
I pray you’ll do the same: gather your strength and roll away your stone. Let some light in that tomb. And let Jesus work with you.