Accountability and a Slight of “Talk-to-the-Hand”

with 2 comments

So you finally let the cat out of the bag about that embarrassing no-no you’ve been hiding. Over lunch one day, you toil to lay it all out there. It’s a long story with eight different angles. On the other side of the table is me. As you talk my mind starts to wander over to Madagascar with the lemurs. By the time you finish explaining, I realize that I had heard what you were talking about with half of my brain and decided that reed lemurs are my favorite type of lemur with the other half.

I crash back down to Earth (or this side of it) and offer some advice: “That’s pretty tough. Well, you know, I struggle too; we all struggle and have our own vices. God is faithful to forgive, though. He’s sovereign too.” The confessor, somewhere between comforted and confused, says to him/herself, “I need to just get serious about it this time. Maybe this week’ll be better.” If you’re like me, you’re not always the best listener, and, if you’re like me, you’ve been in the position of the hesitant confessor.

A primary way that we often flatter ourselves concerning our sin is to assume that the issue goes no further than external actions. “I didn’t do _____ for three weeks, but then I messed up again.” We end up treating our issues like we’re learning to wheelie on a bike. “I made it all the way to the end of the driveway that time! But then I wrecked…” Or learning to hula hoop: “I hula-ed through the end of ‘I Want It That Way’, but then Suzy made a face so I lost rhythm.” Thus, we fail to recognize that our actions are actors performing the play already written by our hearts. This manifests itself in both sides of the conversation:

  • The Confessor- All we see is a timid individual, but in their heart is a war. It’s a violent tug-of-war between active sin-hiding and passive survival mode-preservation on one team, and, a Christian desire to confess and deny self on the other. The battle is for a heart throne. It’s easy for sin to remain seated on the   throne as long as the confessor thinks that, say, binge-eating is simply a matter of what he/she puts or doesn’t put in his/her mouth. In light of this, of course the confession is going to come out in generalities.
  • The Listener– Your friend is also in a battle.  One one side there is a concoction of fear of man, desire to avoid a messy situation, and a conscious you’re-too-close bubble.  On the other is self-denial, love and compassion, and abandonment for a brother/sister.  The battle is between the Enemy saying, “Give a generic antidote without getting to the root of the issue. We do things for no reason,” and Christ saying, “Each person is different, and each issue is more complex than what meets the eye. There is something lying underneath all these things that your friend is dealing with.  He’s not a mindless robot.  Remember how I entered into your mess? You can enter into your friend’s mess.”

Jesus never gave people a slight of “talk-to-the-hand” when they confronted Him.  He sought to expose the hearts of even those who were violently opposed to Him, and is still about this work, often through the loving, patient conversations of hesitant confessors and scatterbrained listeners like you and me.


Written by keywoodblog

February 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Gospel

2 Responses

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  1. I’m impressed by your fairly logical inclusion of Lemurs and the overall content of the post.

    John Leek (@johnleek)

    February 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

  2. Well-written.


    February 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

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