One of the many ways the gospel informs our life as a church is through the clarity it provides about our sinfulness and our need for salvation. When we think about the gospel, we often rightly emphasize the death and resurrection of Jesus. But, equally important is the truth that—as the apostle Paul writes—“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
All people are lost sinners in desperate need of forgiveness and grace. The gospel does not plug its ears and cover its eyes in an attempt to ignore the reality of sin. Rather, it squarely acknowledges sin and provides a solution. And if the gospel itself acknowledges sin in this way, we who have been transformed by that gospel ought to also do the same. However, this is often a lot more easily said than done.
The natural tendency of our culture is to want to project the image that nothing is wrong. Even as Christians, we don’t want other Christians to know that we struggle with sin. In many churches, if you are asked the question, “how are you doing?” you are expected to say, “I’m doing well!” regardless of what struggles you may be experiencing. But, if everyone in the church projects the image that they are sinless, what kind of message does that send to the broken world around us?
As people who have been transformed by the gospel, we ought to humbly acknowledge the reality of our sin and seek to cultivate a culture where confession is possible, grace is experienced, sinners are redeemed, and lives are continually transformed. But how can we cultivate this kind of culture in our own church?
One important truth about culture—whether at the societal level, the institutional level, or the family level—is that it usually starts at the top and works its way down. When I think of the influential spiritual leaders in my life, one of the most valuable things they have done for me is to be quick to acknowledge their own weakness, confess their failures, and continually point to Jesus.
At every level of leadership, those in positions of leadership and authority are the ones who must seek to lead by example in the humble acknowledgement of their own sin and quickness to confess and repent.
Even if you aren’t a formal church leader, most of you reading this have been given some degree of responsibility for the spiritual leadership of others—whether in your own home or in relationships with those who are younger in the faith than you are. As we seek to grow as a church in a culture of confession, I encourage you not to fall into our culture’s trap of desiring to project unwavering perfection, confidence, and strength. You will do far more good for those you lead by humbly acknowledging your weaknesses, confessing your struggles and mistakes, looking to Jesus, and encouraging those under your leadership to do the same!
All the best,