When people ask me about my brother, I love to tell them that he is downtown at the rescue mission. And then I have to tell them that he works there as the director of spiritual life. Rick asked me to come down and lead the devotion time this morning for the men. It was great – 35 guys together in a room needing God to do something big in their lives, and I am including myself in that 35.
The official name of the mission is Hope Ministries, but people there just call it “the Hope.” The mission uses a grace-based model developed by the Grace Network. One of the components of the program is called a self-evaluation. When a resident violates a community standard of the mission, he is asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding the incident. A series of 7 questions leads him to evaluate his thinking behind the choice that he made. During the morning devotion meeting, any guys who have filled out a self-evaluation are asked to read their responses to the questions before the entire group, and then to answer any further questions that any member of the group may have.
Twice now I have sat in on these sessions. And when I do this verse keeps coming to my mind, “Confess your faults to each other.” (James 5:16) I’ve read that verse in the past and thought to myself, “Yeah, right, I’m going to tell someone else how I messed up. I don’t think so. That’s my business; not theirs. And besides, I already feel bad about it – I don’t need other people looking down on me, too.”
But then I look at how self-evaluations work at (the) Hope. When guys have to share how they screwed up, it’s not judgment that is offered, but rather grace. Every guy in that room has messed up before, so he knows the feeling – and he knows that condemnation is not the answer. Support is. Unfortunately in most of our Christian circles we can’t share our weaknesses and failures because we are part of a judgmental community and we can’t afford to lose face.
Instead we lose grace.
When we struggle in life, our natural tendency is to keep it to ourselves and just try to work through it on our own. But is that really the best plan? Maybe it would be better if we had the help and support of others around us. Maybe that’s what God had in mind when he told us to confess our faults to one another. Maybe He was thinking that it would be healthy and helpful if we could be transparent enough to involve others.
I know I’m starting to think that way.
Filed under: Random Thoughts