“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
I believe that one of the strategies the devil uses to keep us stuck where we are, helpless to overcome sin in our lives, powerless to advance the gospel, and failures in regards to perhaps a dozen other spiritual victories, is the strategy of keeping us working alone.
Everywhere you look, whether in the church or in the world, you find people working alone. It’s true we praise the team players, but in reality it’s the lone rangers that are the superstars, and we all want to be superstars. I guess we forget that the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
In the church we even have songs that celebrate the “need” to work solo. In fact, one spiritual titled, Lonesome Valley, dolefully talks about how Jesus had to walk this lonesome valley alone and then shifts to the message that we all must walk this valley alone as well.
Friends, Jesus didn’t walk this lonesome valley alone until after Gethsemane, and by that time his father was withdrawing because he was receiving our sin and guilt and quite literally experiencing hell for us. Jesus went through that so that we never have to.
I can’t think of a single passage in the Bible where we’re told that victory can only be really achieved by the individual operator. But I can think of several, and if I searched I might find dozens, exhorting us to draw close to God and each other, and in that community find the strength and resources we need for victory.
Our focus text addresses specifically our need to confess our sins to one another as part of our battle to overcome sin. Do you have sins in your life that you feel helpless to overcome? On your own you probably are. You might have even been praying about this for years with seemingly no result. It may be that the missing element is the strength you get when we work in community. God didn’t design us to be alone. We need him and we need each other.
It just may be that when we see the failure of individuals around us the real reason for the failure, the reason why victory seems so illusive, is because there’s an absence of community praying, working and fighting for them.
Yes, there is an individual responsibility when it comes to victory but that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone. The opposite is true. What we need is to resist the tendency to avoid community, hide our weaknesses and work solo. Strength and victory comes for each of us as we band together, unite in all our work and struggles, seek God’s presence, wisdom and might in everything, and truly become the body of Christ.