If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just,
will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1: 8-9
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30
I remember the words from 1 John by heart. They are a part of the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness, with which the Lutheran worship service began. I never really thought much about them, and didn’t even know they were from the Bible (terrible, I know) until I was in college.
If I had known that they were in the Bible, and been acquainted with the passage in 1 John from which these two verses are taken–well, I don’t know. Now I read them and see this amazing parallel with the light (a few verses above) and the word (a few verses below). Reading it in that light (no pun intended), it seems even more grave to refuse to admit our sin, because it shows that the Truth is not in us, that we do not abide in the Light, and that the Word is not in us.
And then we are heavy-laden indeed, burdened with the weight of our sin and the distance from God it signals. From Jesus we learn how to receive from God–mercy, forgiveness, righteousness; even as he receives everything from the Father (all he says and does, as John’s gospel records it), he invites us to receive from the Father. It is an invitation to live in the Truth, in the Light, and by the Word, and the only requirement is that we confess that we fail to allow that Truth to dwell in us richly, and we turn to the darkness for fear that our puny and corrupt hearts will not be able to bear the Light.
But this Truth purifies, it does not condemn; and this Light cleanses, it does not scorch: et lux erat bonum.