I was watching this show on the Discovery Channel and I observed something that made me immediately sit back and think.
The show had a few men and women testing and foot-tagging Canadian geese for some kind of scientific data endeavor. They had helicopters hovering overhead so the geese would feel intimidated and not fly off, and then they built a corral of sorts to herd the geese into. After all of this goose wrangling, they picked out the geese one-by-one and put the foot tag on, swabbing them to see if they had bird flu, and doing a few other things. Once the workers were finished with this alien-abduction-like process, the geese were free to go. But the birds wouldn’t run off or fly away – even after the helicopter had gone and the restrictions on their wings were removed. The former goose captives, even though they were free to go, would huddle back up with the rest of the gaggle… back inside the corral. They chose a communal prison rather than the temporary isolation of freedom (the birds always find each other in the wild fairly quickly).As I thought about this, I wondered to myself whether we Christians aren’t the same way sometimes. After being convicted of sin and asking God for forgiveness, rather than escaping into the newness of life and the freedom that ensues confession and openness (as James 5:16 tells us), we huddle back up with the other captives and hurry on as if nothing has changed. We’re back in captivity with the rest of the evangelical gaggle. No observable repentance, no discernible victory, no lasting change… sanctification grinds to a halt. But what if we were, like Nate Larkin – the author of “Samson and the Pirate Monks” – to be mature enough and confident enough in our God and His Son Christ Jesus that we could and would confess our sins to each other and experience the healing within the safe confines of true Christian unity. In “Samson,” Nate tells his gritty story of addiction, adultery, pain, and long agonizing despair in sin. But he also tells of the victory that is found in godly repentance, spirit-led confession, and the true victory that walking in the light brings. It is one of the few books that addresses sin as it truly is, and warns of the danger of keeping secret sin from the potentially helpful awareness of true brothers and sisters in the faith.
I think it took this one crazy goose who went off into the freedom of open confession and the joy in victorious living for me to see that the way to holiness and continuing sanctification is by weeping at the foot of the cross, but not alone in my room at night before I sleep… rather in the sight of trusted believers. And I’ve found two really cool things… First, I’ve seen that it hasn’t necessarily made my struggles easier, but it’s made my walk more comfortable because I know that I don’t have to be the hero. I don’t have to be the Christian Superman who has it all down. Second, I’ve realized that there are a lot of solid, mature believers out living in the openness of true confession and repentance. The community is real, the brotherhood authentic, the relationships wholesome and fulfilling. The rest of the evangelical geese back in the communal captivity of the religious corral have some semblance of community, but it’s all based on a common fear – that their armor might be seen as rusty or that it might have a weak spot or two. But I’ve found that the true community is found in patching each other’s armor and grinding the rust off each other’s blade.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” – Romans 13:12