Sometimes I hear you whispering in my heart, “I take great delight in you.”
It’s hard for me to receive this blessing, but I know it’s based on the
unconditional Love You have for all your children.
Jesus Listens, May 2
We live and feel deepest from the gut, not from the head.
The love I have for my child, the way I felt during the first dance at my wedding, the doubled-over weight I’ve held staring into the casket of a lost loved one, and the laughter that comes from watching my niece open a gift on Christmas morning—none of that emerges from an intellectual equation I’ve solved. It comes from somewhere deeper, somewhere more instinctive, an emotional place.
That’s how author of Hebrews describes Jesus’ response to sin and the havoc it wreaks on our lives—a gut-level, emotional response of empathy:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).
Empathy most often emerges from shared experience. We empathize with the weakness we see in others when it matches our own experience. The same is true for Jesus, which we see in Hebrews 4: “[He] has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
Jesus is a healer, yes, but He’s the kind of doctor who’s also dealt with the same disease. He’s a doctor treating lung cancer who also had lung cancer, who’s felt the effects, and even donated one of His lungs for a transplant. Don’t you see the profound difference in this kind of healer?
Jesus shares in my pain, takes on my condition—yet He did not sin. And that’s our hope, our only hope. The one filled with the deepest empathy is also full of healing power. He is always with us, even in our weakness.
So how do we take Him up on his power to heal?
Confession. Confession is how we turn to Him, look Him in the eye, and acknowledge His presence here with us, not to judge but to rescue.
A doctor can’t heal you without an accurate diagnosis. If you show up to a great doctor and describe yourself as “generally sick,” she’s not going to be able to do a lot for you. To confess is to say, “I want to name my symptoms, completely and comprehensively, because I want healing, completely and comprehensively.”
Grace, the biblical antidote to sin, is equally the most craved and resisted force in the world. Because in order to receive it, we have to confess that we’ve done something wrong. And the instinctive human response to sin is hiding.
The “naked and unashamed” state of Genesis 2, instantly became “covered and ashamed” a chapter later. God finds His beloved and asks: “Where are you?” This simple question is an invitation to confession, an invitation Adam and Eve don’t take.
The alternative to hiding is daring to show ourselves to God. That’s how we open ourselves to receive His unconditional love. Ever wonder what made David a man after God’s own heart, even when his bio read “liar, manipulator, adulterer, murderer”? The psalms David wrote are peppered with personal confessions and stark honesty before God. He was a long way from perfection, but when David realized he was in the wrong, he didn’t hide. He ran to the Father.
Growing Your Relationship with God
One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made in the church is to reimagine spiritual maturity as the need to rely less on sharing the things we do wrong. The unspoken assumption is, “As I ascend in relationship with God, I confess less because I have less to confess.” True spiritual maturity, though, is the opposite—more confession, not less. Maturity is discovering the depths of my personal brand of fallenness and the depths God’s grace has really gone, even without my knowing it.
Confession turns the very parts of our stories we most want to edit or erase altogether into the very parts of our stories we’d never take back and never stop telling. That’s the kind of author God is—less of an editor, more of a Redeemer.
About the Author
Tyler Staton is the Lead Pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, OR, and the National Director of 24-7 Prayer USA. He is passionate about pursuing prayer in the honest realities of day-to-day life. Tyler is also the author of Searching for Enough: The High Wire Walk Between Doubt and Faith. He lives in Portland with his wife Kirsten and their three sons.