Derek Webb: I Was Wrong

Derek Webb‘s coming to town and he’s telling everybody he was wrong, he’s sorry and he loves you. He’s encouraging us to practice that kind of confession in our lives, too…I think he’s on to something.

A story. I stole a pack of grape bubble gum when I was a preschooler. My dad said I couldn’t have it, and so when he wasn’t looking, I shoved it under my cotton shirt and tucked the shirt in my denim waste. I could feel the harshness of the paper wrapper against my skin. When I got home, I snuck into my closet and threw a piece of the gum into my mouth. It was sweet. It tasted nothing like grapes, but it was sweet. And then, my dad was standing behind me. He took me back to the store where I stood in front of them and told them I stole it.

I remember that moment from my childhood more vividly than most moments, and here’s the strange thing: I remember it fondly. I really do. For one, I admire my dad’s poise. He had to have known I took the gum before he caught me chewing it. I’d like to think he was letting me find out how the gum couldn’t possibly be as good as it had been in my dreams. Then, I really admire my dad for making me go through with the confession. And here’s why, I think: There’s power in saying, I was wrong, I’m sorry and I love you. Real power. Like, the kind of power God wields. And I got exposed to that as my life was just getting started.

See, when we say, I was wrong, I’m sorry and I love you, and we mean it, God has space to operate. Before, there was no space. We crowded out God’s Spirit with our reckless assurance that we knew better; we knew what was best for us; we knew what was best for everybody else. We were so sure.

But at some point, hopefully we’re confronted with the reality that our instincts just aren’t that good. Hopefully we’re confronted with the fact that we can’t possibly know what’s best for everybody, especially if we haven’t spent time alongside them–time in their shoes, as we say. And at last, hopefully we’re confronted with the notion that we may not even know what’s best for ourselves. Hopefully we confess all that…often. Because when we do, God breathes power and wisdom into our midst.

Right now, the church desperately needs that sort of power, the power of honesty. It needs the courage to admit, I don’t know. I have acted like I know, but I don’t. It needs the humility to look at those from whom it has taken dignity and say, I have acted like I knew you before I knew you. I have acted like I know what only God knows. And for all that, I was wrong. I’m sorry. And I love you. 

Then Power happens. Faith seeks understanding. Grace precedes knowledge. The love of Christ becomes the love of the church.

Thanks, Derek, for saying, I was wrong. I’m sorry. And I love you. I’m going to say it with you.

Derek Webb will be at St. Mark’s UMC on Sunday, November 24, at 7:30 p.m. To get tickets, go here:—the-apology-tour—carmel-in/.

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