I’m reading McLaren’s Naked Spirituality, slowly (note: I hope that I am not voted off the island for reading this and… enjoying it thoroughly, ha). He has a great chapter on Self Examination and Confession. Here are a few thoughts:
“A secret to the spiritual life is desiring to actually be more spiritual than you appear to be. The secret to hypocrisy is desiring to appear more spiritual than you actually are.” It’s true, we hustle instead of being humble. (Frank Viola)
C.S. Lewis was once asked what was the most important conversation of his day. People assumed that he would say the one that he had with God. Lewis, however, said “It’s the conversation you have with yourself before you speak to God, because in that conversation with yourself, you decide whether you are going to be honest and authentic with God, or whether you are going to meet God with a false face, a mask, an act, a pretense.”
Confession is powerful because it exposes us deeply. When someone says, “I’m sorry” they are really saying, “I acknowledge what you already know.” McLaren continues, “When I confess to God my secrets, the truths about which I fear rejection, I am rejecting de-ligion- which always involves a disconnection between who I really am and who I project myself to be. When I hold up to God the regrets and remorse I would otherwise try to hide in order to project a happy, likeable, and ‘spiritual’ image, my ‘I am who I am’ can resonate with God’s ‘I am who I am.’ When I try to appear no holier, stronger, or better than I actually am, I keep the vital connection intact, unsevered.”
The conscience is a “moral nerve” for the soul. Self-examination allows that nerve to not go numb but to alert us when we are placing ourselves in destructive and damaging places. McLaren warns, with a great image, of our consciences being too hyper-active, like “a watchdog that turns on its master with the same fury it has been trained to focus on an intruder.” However, Confession and Self-Examination help call off the dog and keeping us protected, then moving on.
“If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own.” -Richard Rohr