Good News for the Failure
Failure is a common emotion to the human experience. We can all put on our facades and hide it pretty well for the most part but most of us, if we are honest, are bombarded with this emotion like a thick fog that can cloud our site of anything good and rob us of joy. I don't believe there is any socioeconomic sphere in which this emotion doesn't pervade. In fact the more responsibility one has the greater the emotion. The parent who is flooded with the catalogs of "would have's" and "should have's", the leaders and providers of homes and organizations who constantly tote the line of tension between work and family. Oh, and most often when we read some new article that comes across our social media feed giving us a list 10 ways to be a better parent, leader, motivator, etc. it's usually a list of things that I know I should do. I say, "Yes! I've heard these things before!" And when I find an inkling of desire to start, my feelings of failure have pulled the rug out from under the feet of any said desires to start. We think, "It's already too late, I failed too many times to see any change in my situation." If this is you, please don't get the cart before the horse. What you don't need is to read more articles about how awesome the author is at successfully implementing the 10 ways they go on to list on how to be a better...whatever. You need the good news of Jesus Christ. Let me give you a different kind of list to think about before you move on to the other well intended yet soul crushing do's and don'ts purported in the blogosphere.
JESUS IS YOUR SYMPATHETIC HIGH PRIEST
"...we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in every way tempted as we are, yet without sin" - Hebrews 4
There is't a single emotion that you experience that Jesus did not experience. Sometimes all it takes to cut through the fog of failure is for someone to say, "I know exactly what you're feeling." And before all the theology police bust out your arguments to the contrary saying, "Jesus didn't experience failure! He can't sympathize with me in that." I would ask you the question, "What do you think Jesus became on the cross?" 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "...He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (a point I will discuss in a minute). So let me paraphrase this verse if you will allow me. He who knew no failure in his physical life became my failure on the cross to bring a metaphysical change in my spiritual, emotional and physical plight of failure. So whether you feel like a failure or you have actually failed, either way, Jesus sympathizes with you and actually took on your failure on the cross. Let him tell you that afresh if you need to hear that today.
JESUS IS YOUR MEDIATOR
"There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ" - 1 Timothy 2:5
"Because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" - Hebrews 7:25
Had Jesus never come into this world our situation as humans would be a completely different story. Because we have all actually failed, sinned and caused what we see sometimes as irreparable damage to God's creation, God being just and good, is invoked to anger at the injustice and suffering that we have created whether grand or minute in scale. But because God is also a God of love and reconciliation, Jesus was the solution God the Father put forward to display his glorious character of both justice and grace. Jesus voluntarily came to take the penalty due to us. Having died and satisfied any ounce of anger on the Father's part, Jesus became our "wrath absorber". Accompanying your feelings of failure may be the feelings of fear thinking that God is angry with you. This is not true! Because of Jesus' death, taking what we deserve, the Father is not mad at you nor will he ever be because three days after Jesus death, He rose from the dead to be an eternal priest, constantly able to take our feelings of failure to a loving God who wants to show you how much He loves you in Christ.
JESUS IS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
"...of Him you are in Christ, who became for us...righteousness" - 1 Corinthians 1:30
"But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" - Romans 4:5
The beauty of the Christian gospel, that which sets it's message apart from any other world religion and displays the glory of God in no clearer way is the doctrine of justification through faith alone by God's grace alone. The above verse communicates it in no clearer terms, to the one who confesses to God that I fall into the category of "ungodly" and trusts in Christ's loving sacrificial work on your behalf, God credits with the righteousness of Christ apart from your works (2 Corinthians 5:21). The hardest part about faith is that it is something that I can't see. What I see now is my failure. What I feel now is my failure. But if I have trusted in Christ, what I need for my present feelings and actions of failure is the good news of the accreditation of righteousness.
JESUS IS YOUR SUPPLY
"...if the Spirit of the one Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" - Romans 8:11
The good news gets even better. As Jesus ministers the above realities to your believing heart, his sympathy for you, his taking on of your failure, His eternal life which mediates the love of God to you and your clean slate in God's sight by gifting you righteousness, the fourth point is of equal importance and worthy of awe. God placed His spirit inside you the moment you trusted in Jesus (Ephesians 1:13,14). Don't miss this. Do you believe that the Spirit of God dwells inside of you? If you have trusted in Jesus for salvation, He does, whether you feel it or not. And if the Spirit of God lives inside of you, the above verse tells us that it is the same power that rose Jesus from the dead that is available to help you! On one hand I read this verse and see that if the Spirit is what it required for me to live a changed life to the glory of God, then I wasn't able to live this life apart from his indwelling Spirit in the first place. Maybe I'm weird, but this brings me comfort as well. Sometimes I'm deceived into thinking that God forgave my sin and then expects me to perform on my own ability. This can't be farther from the truth! Jesus not only paid for my sin and forgave me, but intended that I would be constantly dependent on Him to perform any of the good I may want to do. The way that I find I'm able to do the good lists that I see come across my social media pages is not by simply reading the "do's and "don'ts" and performing, but by first meditating on what Christ has done and continues to do for me as a living Savior who's Spirit dwells in my heart. Then and only then do I find the ability to perform any of the good things in my family, work place and community.
Don't get me wrong, I love lists (obviously this post is one). I love reading the practical ways that I can be a better parent, pastor, leader, etc. But I am the type of person (and I know I'm not alone in this) who is incredibly susceptible to giving up because of my own emotions of perceived or actual failure. If you're like me you need to meditate on the above list before you move towards the others. Sometimes when we read those lists our natural mind picks up the stones of condemnation and failure to pummel us before we even start. We need to let Jesus minister the above list to our hearts and crush the demonic accusers in our minds. We then need to hear our Rescuer say, "Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go and and sin no more." It is only when we take our feelings of failure to the feet of Jesus, let him minister to our hearts with sympathy, mediation and accreditation of righteousness that we find he then supplies the ability to do some of the good lists that we see. Don't get the cart before the horse, there is hope for you to implement some of the good "do's" and "don'ts" you see online, but the hope is not in your ability first, it's in Christ's grace and ministry to you first, which then supplies the ability to do the good through the power of His indwelling Spirit.