“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8)
Have you ever attended a 12-step group?
As a pastor, I sponsored dozens of such groups. I supported them because I saw lives, families, and marriages saved through them.
These groups usually start in the same way. “Hi, I’m John, and I’m an alcoholic.” Or, “Hi, I’m Jane, and I have an eating disorder.” Or, “Hi, I’m George, and I’m addicted to narcotics.” Or, “Hi, I’m Frieda; I need help living with my husband, who is a drunk.”
I’ve often wondered what would happen if we started every worship service, bible study, and fellowship group with the same kind of disclosure and honesty.
“Hi, I’m Dan, and I’m a fool…I’m a sinner.” “Hi, I’m Donna; I’m broken… I’m lost.”
If we started in such ways, a number of things could happen.
It could “level the playing field,” for no one would get to stand over and judge anyone else.
It could help everyone to acknowledge that we all need grace.
It could help us to relax, for no one would need to pretend they were more pulled together than anyone else, nor would anyone try to deny they were flawed.
It could even cut down on the gossip that can infect our communities, for if all of us are messed up, why talk about anyone else?
Although it might not be practical or logistically possible for our churches to copy the practices of the 12-step groups, the instinct to start with our common broken humanity would have a lot of impact and power. Imagine the encouragement we would be given if we led not with our righteousness but our brokenness; not with our credentials but our need for grace; not with how wonderful we are but how awesome Jesus is.
Again, what did I see in these groups? I saw incredible, honest, humbling, forthright, transparent, live-saving, addiction-beating, loving fellowship. That sure does sound like what Jesus would desire when we gather.
- If your next worship service, bible study, or fellowship group started with everyone sharing where or how he or she was most in need, what would you say when it was your turn?
- Today’s scripture says that when we try to deny our sins, we deceive ourselves. Do you have a hard time admitting that you mess up and fall short? If so, what would make it easier for you to do so?
- Have you ever “deceived” yourself about the trouble you were in or the trouble you were causing? Are you right now deceiving yourself in any way, with any habit, in any relationship?