DayBreaks for 8/09/18: The Confession Hotline
From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:
Some time back, Time magazine carried a story about a new phone service that was being offered. It was an “apology sound off line,” and people could call up at any hour of the day or night in order to get things off their chest. The line, at the time, would receive up to 200 phone calls per day.
They also created a second number, which charged a higher price for their services, that people could call and pay to have someone listen to their confessions. That line received as many as 10,000 calls per day.
The first line makes sense to me in a way because it’s better to vent into a telephone mouthpiece than to become violent or abusive towards someone who is present. The second service – the confession hotline – was more intriguing.
Why would someone call a confession hot line and pay to have someone hear them confess the deepest and darkest secrets in their lives? I am not sure, but I think it probably has something to do with the human heart and how hard it is for the heart to bear up indefinitely under the weight of our hidden sin and shame.
But there is another reason that has been suggested, too: it is the one place where people could turn and know that they go to vent out their guilt and be guaranteed that no one would judge them for their evil. There seems to be some craving in us and at some level, we know the truth does, indeed, set us free.
There was something about Jesus that seems to have made him a safe person so it was easy to confess to him. Why is it not that way with other people? Probably there is a plethora of things that enter into an answer for that question: we don’t trust them to keep it a secret, we are too ashamed of what we’ve done to have another human know, we’re afraid that they will think less of us, or that they’ll react with utter disgust and disdain – and that when we see them again, we’ll always have those dirty feelings hanging over our head. No one wants to be in the presence of those who think you’re dirt or scum.
That’s a shame. Jesus doesn’t feel that way about us when we confess to him. Look at how he dealt with all those in Scripture who confessed their shame and sin – not one went away feeling like dirt. Not one seems to have departed concerned that Jesus somehow thought less of them and would always think less of them. Not one seems to have been of the opinion that Jesus wouldn’t ever want anything to do with them again. And if anyone was ever in a position to judge them, it was the Son of God.
When will we learn that confession is important and that when someone confesses to us, it’s not our job to judge them or set them straight? They’re already aware it’s wrong or they wouldn’t be confessing to start with. They already feel the shame – they are confessing to be set free from that pit. Let’s not throw dirt on top of them as they’re trying to dig out.
Jesus offers us the greatest confessional hotline of all time. Let’s use it more often! It’s free!
PRAYER: Jesus, help us to become like you so that when others confess to us, we are tender, gentle and restorative rather than judgmental and condemning! We confess to you now that we are sinners – and we welcome your promised forgiveness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.