Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28
As Orthodox Christians, some people ask us, “Why do you confess your sins to a priest in Church?”
Before we answer this question, which is the focus of this lesson, let’s answer some other questions.
- Have you ever been so sick that you had to go to the doctor?
- Has there ever been a time when the doctor gave you a shot?
- Has there ever been a time when the doctor gave you some medicine that was pretty disgusting?
All of us can recall having an experience like this. When we think back on it, we should ask ourselves another question: Why? Why did we go to the doctor? Why did we take medicine that we didn’t like? The answer is very simple:
We wanted to get well, and we couldn’t do it by ourselves.
As serious as many sicknesses can get, and as much as they need skilled doctors to heal them, there is a sickness worse than all of them combined. This sickness is sin. As we have said before, sin is failing to be who God has created us to be. It is falling short, missing the mark. While the viruses that we catch from each other can send us to the doctor, they only hurt our bodies. Sin hurts our souls (and sometimes hurts our bodies, too). There is only one cure for sin—forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ.
We go to Church and confess our sins to Christ for the same reasons that we go to a doctor and tell him how we are feeling—so that we can start getting better, because we can’t get better by ourselves. When we confess our sins to Christ in the Church, the priest both lets us know that God has forgiven us of our sins and gives us “prescriptions” for how to get better. If we really want to grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ, we will follow the priest’s prescriptions. If we are not sure whether or not we have sinned, we can look to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as a guide. There is no sin so bad that it cannot be forgiven.
Together with your child, write two to three questions you might have about confession.