I was at an event a few months back where at the end of one of the sessions, a guy came to me and said he needed to talk. He opened up about some personal issues. Nothing surprising, nothing I haven’t heard many times. I asked him why he singled me out to talk. He said he could tell I probably had ministry experience and just sensed I was a safe place.
At the end of the talk, he expressed the need for on-going interaction from someone outside his circle. I told him I would be glad to help him in any way I could. At his request, we exchanged cell numbers and email addresses with the understanding there would be future interaction for the purpose of spiritual growth.
A few days later, I sent a brief text asking how he was doing. No response. A few days later, I sent an email to check on him. No response. Case closed.
Now, I have no intention of throwing this guy under the bus, because what happened wasn’t about me. What he did was what so many guys do. Which brings me to today’s point.
This man expressed the need for a brother, but what he actually wanted was just a session with a priest. A one-time confessional to get out and talk out an issue; to feel good about the purge and move on. No real intention of creating an on-going relationship of openness and growth.
When Christ died on the cross and rose again, He gave us full access to Himself and became our Great High Priest. When He gave us the Holy Spirit, He also gave us access to His priesthood to become priests ourselves. That’s why in James we are encouraged to confess our sin to each other, so that we may be healed.
So now that the Priest role is covered in Christ, what we still desperately need are brothers. On-going, keep-it-real, stay-current brothers. There are most certainly times we should meet with a professional church staff member (whether that title be priest or pastor) or a professional counselor for help with a deep issue.
But when we decide to just meet with someone for a one-time, one-sided confessional, remember that the deep need of our souls will always be to build relationships with brothers-in-arms. One God. One group of guys. A holy union for spiritual growth and moral protection.
Hebrews 4:14-15—We have a great high priest, who has gone into heaven, and he is Jesus the Son of God. That is why we must hold on to what we have said about him. Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!
1 Peter 2:5, 9a—And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done.