Read 1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NRSV)
One of our deepest fears may be that of sharing our shadowy past with someone and finding they reject us because of it. Such a thing was described in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. On her wedding night, Tess confesses to her new husband that she was not a virgin due to a misguided relationship in her past. Her husband is shocked (even though he has had to confess something similar early on). He rejects her and a train of tragedy follows.
Those who seek to follow Jesus might wonder in their darker moments whether he might similarly turn from us and consign us to a life of wandering and shame. The Scriptures repeatedly assure us this is not so. He already knows all there is to know about us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He will not be shocked at what we tell him.
Furthermore, he will actually wipe the slate clean. Not only will he not be taken aback but he will assure us that our sins are forgiven if we cling to him for mercy. We will no longer be defined by our past straying but by our present belonging.
Confessing our sins to another person might seem a bit of a gamble, even though done in the right way at the right time it can be very healing. And yet we can never be absolutely sure of the response we will receive. Will it be rejection or shock? Will it be outward acceptance but inward awkwardness? Asking for grace may seem a bit of a gamble.
With Jesus we need have no doubt. Our ‘badness’ is swamped by his goodness.