There’s really nothing people are more accustomed to than failure. We all fail so much that we choose not to think about it or speak of it. We fail our friends, our spouses, our children, co-workers, family and those we lead.
If you haven’t failed someone recently then it’s because you’re not actually engaging with people. If you haven’t failed at something you’ve tried it’s because you’ve retreated to a safe place where nothing’s going to happen, good or bad.
Christians fail over and over at trying to live up to the standards God has for us. Guilt, fear and shame are the norm for most Christians, but they shouldn’t be. Failure is normal but Jesus has set us free from the crippling emotional results of failure. Guilt, fear and shame are not from God, but the by-product of us listening to our adversary.
The book of 1 John at times seems contradictory of itself, but John is trying to convince us of our true condition. Over and over John seems to say that if we’re saved we’ll stop sinning but that if we say we’ve stopped sinning we don’t have the truth in us. Read 1 John for yourself (it will take about 20 minutes tops). A little confused?
That’s because the war within us is a confusing battle. We have a sinful nature at work in us but we’ve also been given a new nature when we accept Jesus. We have the power in God to stop sinning but our weak and broken flesh clings to the old ways and we give in. Our struggle is to honor God in all our ways but we continually fail.
So why did God set us up to fail?
The Upside-Down Gospel
Jesus promised that what He came to do was going to upset the sensibilities of just about everyone. He was going to take the worst of the worst and redeem them even though they didn’t want it. We didn’t ask for it and He died for us anyway. The God who was the one wronged in the first place when we sinned chose to die on a cross for that offense. It doesn’t make sense! Why did God try to conquer failure with more failure?
It’s because He wanted us to redefine failure. Jesus came to redefine the human experience. Our struggle with sin is not our own, but His. Our perpetually unfulfilled desire for success and greatness is not ours, but His. Jesus became our “Failure-In-Chief” so that we could overcome failure. Jesus took on all our sins on the cross. Scripture even says that Jesus “became sin” for us.
Jesus turned our ideas about success and failure upside down. We must embrace our weakness, failure and loss, not move away from them. When we acknowledge that we can’t overcome them, that’s when He steps in and wins. He became failure for us. He became weakness for us. Jesus became loss for us.
There’s nothing that sends us into the arms of sin like disappointment, loss, injustice and failure. We reject the notion that we are failures so we exchange that horrible feeling with sin in an attempt to make us feel better. It never works. Jesus instead asks us to fill that inevitable emptiness with Him.
When we run into our failures, we run into Jesus. When we embrace our weakness, we embrace the universe’s greatest strength. When we choose to keep saying “yes” to Jesus, we choose to embrace the chief failure who takes away ours.
Forever we are winners. Forever we are successes. Forever we are sinless. For eternity we can never lose if we choose to accept the God who became failure for us.
Have you embraced your failure? Have you trusted Jesus with all your heart? Failure’s inevitable, but eternal success comes through a decision to follow the One who can take it all away forever.