Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)
As a husband I have, occasionally, found myself the object of anger or frustration without knowing exactly why. You probably know just what I’m talking about. You walk in and you immediately sense the tension in the air. You quickly scan through your mind for what you may have done to cause this but, for the life of you, cannot figure it out. Finally, you ask the dreaded question, “What’s wrong?”
The answer comes back, and it is exactly as you feared it would be, “You know what’s wrong!”
I joke with my family, and with my congregation, that things might be easier if they could just read my mind. I’m only half joking because, I really do find that I get frustrated when people don’t just know what I’m thinking or feeling. The irony is that I can hardly think of a single thing more annoying than someone not clearly sharing their thoughts.
The lack of communication is a major issue in our families today. I don’t pretend to have a degree in psychology, but I have been around enough to know that families who do not communicate seem to struggle with staying close. It doesn’t help that growing apart comes naturally in a family. Think about it. Before our birth, every one of us began in a very close relationship with our mother. From there, our other familial relations just seem to drift apart. As we grow and engage in new chapters of our own lives, our families grow further and further apart. If we do not intentionally, and clearly, share our thoughts, our relationships can wither and die entirely.
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)
The local church often compares itself to a family. However, it is different in that its members do not begin intimately close. In fact, the local church is typically filled with people from all walks of life who have never even met before gathering—they are foreigners to each other. Their relationship with God makes them citizens of His kingdom. As they worship, and grow spiritually, they should also grow closer to each other. The local church body begins as strangers, but becomes a tight knit family as God uses them to do glorious works.
Unfortunately, we tend to take our bad habits everywhere we go, including church. In as much as the lack of communication can divide and destroy a biological family, it can also divide and destroy the church family. God brings us together so that we can encourage and pray for one another, and yet we often refuse to participate in clear communication.
James tells us that we are to confess our sins and pray for each other. How can we pray for one another if we do not confess our needs to one another? It is not humility to keep your problems to yourself. It is pride, masquerading as humility. The church family should be a place where we share in our victories and in our losses. It should be a place where we celebrate together and mourn together. The church family can only be a family when the members participate and choose to become a part of something bigger than themselves. It is the place where we confess to, and pray for one another.