“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:1-9
Don’t be alarmed, but I have recently come to the realization that I may be wrong about some things. I’m not just talking about small things (really, 16-year-old John? You thought that mustache looked good?). I’m talking about big things, “who I am and how I make my way in the world” type things.
You can tell just by looking at my photo—go ahead, look, I promise it’s free from gorpy mustaches—you can tell that I have gotten a lot of breaks in my life. I am a white, cisgender, heterosexual, American man with papers, born into a society that values all those things very highly.
I used to think I’ve earned everything I’ve got. Now I see that much of what I have been given came at others’ expense. I used to be proud that I worked hard not to be racist. Now I see that my unchecked, unexamined white privilege hurts people of color in deep ways.
I worry I’m on the wrong side of history, I worry that my grandchildren may look at what I believed and what I said and what I worked for in my life, and be justifiably ashamed.
This is where scripture comes in handy. I know from scripture that all people sin and mess up and make mistakes. I know from scripture that I can be a better person. But only if I can first admit I am wrong.
God, forgive me, help me walk your ways.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.