When they were convicted of their sin, they tore their clothes, put on hard, scratchy garments, poured ashes on themselves, then sat in a public place so everyone could see. We don't do that.
So, what can we do? After all, making a public declaration of sin cements our understanding of our situation before God in a way no private confession would ever do. So what, in the context of our own culture, could we do?
How about this:
As a rule, we're really good at introducing ourselves to people. What about if, the next time we shook hands with someone in greeting, we just said, "Hi, I'm JoAnne, and I'm a sinner."?
They do it at AA meetings all the time, don't they? It's part of their renewal, their repentance, if you will. They declare that they are alcoholics and so, begin their journey back from that pit. It should work for us, too, shouldn't it?
Say we did that.
What would a statement like that say, to ourselves and the people we meet?
First, God is real, and He has authority over my life, authority above both my own reluctance to admit it and any human's opinion of me.
If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves--1John 1:8
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight...Psalm 51:4
Second, this same God created me because He loves me. If God is real, and instituted the conditions under which we are to live with Him--the same ones I have broken--He did so because they are a natural outflow of Himself. Whatever God commands me to be, He already is.
Be ye holy because I am holy.--Leviticus 20:7
Third, I am not perfectly holy, but God can save me. If I admit freely my sin, and acknowledge a God both all-powerful and loving, He has to have made a way for me. He is not content to leave me in the desolation to which admission of sin inevitably leads.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.--1John 1:9
In the end, there is no gospel without sin. We wouldn't need it. God, already full and glorious in our sight, would be good news enough. As it is, though, things didn't work out like that. And what we live, or have the opportunity to live, is not Plan B. God only makes and keeps Plan A. He gets to do that, you know. Perfectly, like He does everything else.
He made us, and when He did, He knew we weren't God, like Himself. We never could be. Sin, and all its anguish, has to be part of God's plan. It's how we know His holiness, how we know how much all this cost Him, how much He loves us. We know instinctively that we cannot understand good in the absence of evil, happiness without unhappiness. Well, then, how could we know everything we know about God without seeing even a glimpse of life without Him? I don't think I could.
So, yes. I'm a sinner. And while I'm not proud of it, I understand the role my sin plays in God's plan. I need it. I need its anguish, its shame, its desolation. Then I know how much I need my God.
Hi. I'm JoAnne.....and I'm a sinner.