Is confession needed before we come to Christ???

Prior to the UMC's communion liturgy we have these words that says, "Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another."

We then have a prayer of confession which is said as a community.

No big deal, right?

However, I was in class last week and one of the professors said there was a scholar she read who says something to this effect:

What makes Jesus different from other teachers of his day is that Jesus does not require people to repent prior to being in his presence. When someone wants to see him or be healed, Jesus does not require that person repents and then that person can eat or becomes healed.

This idea was powerful for me to consider how we "do" communion, conversion, and evangelism. We require that people first repent of their sin - the prayer in a communion liturgy to the "sinner's prayer" on a Biblical tract. Then AFTER repentance are you in communion with or move closer to Jesus.

But is this backwards?

Requiring people to repent makes the Christian life look like a religion of requirements in order to get grace. Rather than a religion which promotes grace and out of grace we repent.

When that person encountered Jesus, that is encountered grace from God, they repented out of that experience. Perhaps that repentance meant more to the person as it was a response to the overwhelming grace they experienced even as a person who is "unclean", "sinful" or "outcast".

I don't know, but what would it look like if the prayer of confession in the UMC communion liturgy came after communion rather than a prayer of thanksgiving?