There’s a true story about confession that I love. I read it years ago in a terrific book called Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller. I would have loved to experience it myself! Donald Miller attended a hyper liberal college in Portland, Oregon named Reed College. It had no moral rules, in fact, it had very few rules at all. It was a wild place that had no room for anything religious or Christian. This was one of the most anti-Christian campuses you could find anywhere.
Once a year they shut down the campus for a huge weekend orgy and party. Friday everyone got drunk. Saturday night they got high. Clothing was optional. There were plays and operas with fireworks which I imagine was quite a trip… if you know what I mean.
The few Christian students which attended there decided to do something quite unique. They decided to put up a confession booth in the middle of the campus during the party. They painted a sign that said, “Confess your sins!” They wondered if the students would burn it down. They knew they were taking a huge risk. And yes, they decided to wear robes like Monks.
But, this was no typical confession booth. First, it was a big shed with a slanted roof. You could not miss it. Second, the group wasn’t going to accept anyone’s confession, even though there would be a lot to confess. The group decided they would confess to the students. They would confess that the church had been wrong in doing the Crusades. They apologized for the crooked TV evangelists. They confessed that followers of Jesus had not been very loving, and often judgmental and hypocritical. They confessed that too often the church had neglected the poor and lonely. They confessed they had not represented Jesus well. They invited people into the booth to confess to them, and tell them that in spite of the what the church had communicated, Jesus loved them!
So, these followers of Jesus confessed their sins to their fellow students. They had far more students come in than they ever dreamed. There were many gentle and deep conversations. Some of the students who came in admitted their own spiritual emptiness and struggles. And, time after time, it opened up spiritual conversations that would have never happened had they been yelling judgement at the students for their sinful behavior in their re-creation of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This weekend we are ending our teaching series called Lose Your Religion. We want to lose our religion that expresses itself in judgement and hypocrisy. In my message this Sunday, I’ll even show why judgement and hypocrisy are always a part of religion. We want to repent of religion and replace it with the love of Jesus. And, we’ll have an opportunity to do some confessing ourselves.