The admission itself, is the beginning of redemption, for it signals a turn in direction.
The hardest words I ever heard were from my doctor: "Dave, you are an alcoholic." And the hardest words I've ever spoken were when I in turn told my wife, my children, and my bishop that "I am an alcoholic." And then the miracle took place. The mere utterance of those words set me free. Today, as a consequence of that admission, I have 3 1/2 years of sobriety, 1,289 days, 30,950 hours, but who is counting!
Jesus names the demons. And in doing so he has power over them. And freedom from them is possible.
Isaiah prophesied against the rich getting richer and the poor being squeezed out of the land. Today, two unlikely allies, Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis, are echoing the same message and calling for a change in direction. Its likely a confession that we will not be willing to make, yet if we would, we would be set free from our bondage to unfettered capitalism, the "dung of the devil".
Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
If you would follow Jesus, there is a strong possibility that this will involve a change in direction, a turning, and with that a returning to the one who created us. God stands willing to raise us up with Christ, but first comes the acknowledgement on our part that we need to be raised, that in fact we have died, that we need a savior.
Repentance. A turning and a returning.
And all of this within the context of forgiveness.
The Twelve step program lifts up the ideal of "rigorous honesty" and the principle we are to live by. The fourth and fifth step call forth this "rigorous honesty" in a way that few people outside of recovery have experienced. Repentance.
What is totally lacking, however, is condemnation. That is the surprise for everyone who has gone through the program, facing their fears, convinced that the consequence of their practicing this rigorous honesty will be humiliation and condemnation. More likely, they will experience laughter. And forgiveness. Forgiven, but never condemned. The laughter is because we've all been there, and have been set free.
Jesus left his disciples, ascending into heaven, with these words about repentance and forgiveness.
I think Christians need to laugh more. To become so overcome by the experience of God's grace, opened up to us in repentance and forgiveness, that all we can do is laugh. Laugh at that which once seemed so powerful over us, but which has now become powerless. Laugh because we have been set free from our bondage to sin, death, and the devil. Laugh because we who have died, have been raised. Laugh so wholeheartedly that our laughter ascends to heaven with Christ.
And life, once again, is good.
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