Fellowship of Sinners
Thursday - August 26th
Scripture to Read Today: James 5:13-20
Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Dave Doolin, my high school Sunday school teacher, took the time to disciple me. He invested in helping me learn healthy habits, practices, or disciplines of the Christian walk. He worked an overnight shift as an orderly at a local hospital in Northern Indiana (where I grew up). After his shift, we met once a week for breakfast at a local Pancake House Restaurant.
Dave had me read a chapter in Richard Foster's book, A Celebration of Discipline. We then discussed the assigned chapter each week. I took the whole thing quite seriously. I had already committed my life to vocational ministry and wanted to do all I could do to sharpen my walk with the Lord. So, I came each week with several sentences highlighted and ready to discuss. Dave helped me understand that I could develop healthy practices to help maintain a solid and precious spiritual walk. I am forever grateful for the time Dave took to invest in me.
Foster's book helped me understand spiritual disciplines like worship, solitude, prayer, service, meditation, Scripture reading, and confession. Our current teaching series at Calvary, "Journey: How to Walk with God," focuses on some of these same disciplines. When it comes to the concept of confessing our sins that James 5:16 addresses, Foster does a good job explaining the importance of confessing our sins to one another as believers.
"Confession is a difficult discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin. We cannot bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others. We imagine that we are the only ones who have not stepped onto the high road to Heaven. Therefore, we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy."
-Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
Learning to wisely and appropriately confess our sins to each other requires a great deal of understanding and grace. I love how Foster says that while we are a "fellowship of saints," we are also a "fellowship of sinners." Confessing our sins to each other allows us to extend God's grace and forgiveness to each other. We understand that we remain imperfect on this side of Heaven - even as we grow and become more like Jesus every day.
In confessing our sins to each other, we remind ourselves that we are human, we share in the grace of God, and we move forward from sin into righteousness. We are accountable, not just for the sin, but for embracing God's grace and forgiveness, AND holding each other accountable to living in holiness.
Until Heaven, we are a fellowship of sinners, saved by grace, becoming more like Jesus daily!