Thank God it’s over
I was having lunch with one of the young adults who had stopped coming to church a year earlier. It was one of many such conversations I have recently had.
“I don’t want to go back… My life is far less complicated now… I am way happier since I left,” she said.
Certainly, this is not what I wanted to hear. ‘I am miserable’ is more like what I was looking for.
Confessions like these are becoming very common, and heard by churches and ministries everywhere. While the church may not want to admit it, most of those who have left are not interested in coming back. It is hard for us to hear this. In effect they are saying they do not want what we are.
We can even be offended because it goes against our beliefs. I have told so many people during altar calls, like many before me, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” We convince people with our words of how great it is to be a Christian. But when they go to bite in it seems they are left with a sour taste in their mouth. How can something so good be tasting so bad?
I am a Failure
As I have spoken about this issue many times at different youth and young adult events, I have discovered that almost everyone has come to a point when they have felt like they are a ‘Christian Failure.’
Christian Failures are people who have tried over and over again to live a Christian life. They sincerely tried — and many times! The Holy Spirit has convicted them of sin. They have come to the altar many times. Yet despite their best efforts they fall back into the same issues they came with.
Discouraged, many people have come to the conclusion that they just can’t make it. Either something is wrong with them, or perhaps God doesn’t care about them like he does everyone else. Even though they start out with good intentions, failure always comes. Guilt and condemnation almost always follow failure.
This is where so many give up or are looking for a solution to make it end. If they have tried for weeks, months or years and still feel they are a failure, they start looking for a new solution. The easiest way to fix it is to walk away.
If I do what?
There are things the Bible says we can do, that will cause God to do something. Take 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)
In this case the response of God comes after we do something; he is faithful to his word and we can depend on him to fulfill his promise.
There are many of these scriptures in the Bible that require us to do something if we want that certain result. I call it the reap and sow principle.
However not everything about God works this way. Some things about God are free. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” You don’t have to do anything to make the sun rise tomorrow. Many things with God are simply based on his goodness.
The problem exists in that we have taken things that are free and have applied the laws of reaping and sowing to them. Take salvation; many groups have used fear to keep people in line, which has only added the failure mentality. I have heard teachings that suggested that if Jesus came back while you were ‘in a theatre’ you may not go up to heaven. It is incredible how weak people have made salvation out to be.
One minute you are going to heaven, the next you are going to hell; say a quick prayer and wow — again I am going to heaven. You then repeat this cycle several times a day, hundreds of times a week.
Fear of the Lord has its place, however, the work that Jesus completed on the cross is much bigger than our failings. The truth that nothing can separate us from his love needs to be spread to this generation.
But what is the answer? The true answer is that we have failed, everyone has!: “All have fallen short.” There is nothing you can do about it.
The best thing anyone can do is to actually give up. Give up trying to measure up to God. Give up trying to work your way to heaven and eternal life. The people who say they are happier since they quit may be telling the truth.
It is when we come to this point where we totally give up we that have a chance for something greater. It is when we stop our striving, trusting in our ‘works,’ and our ideas that we can come to a place where we just say, “Jesus, you do it.” The Bible simply does not teach that we keep ourselves saved. It is a total work bought by the blood and grace of Jesus.
What a relief when one day I was awakened to the realization that Jesus had done it all. Experiencing freedom is the beginning of a walk in Christ that is actually enjoyable.
When you are free, condemnation is gone. Worrying about whether or not you are good enough is all history. It is time to set the captives free. We do not have to trade one kind of bondage for another. It is time to live free.
Me too. I was recently reminded that these are some of the most powerful words that can be spoken to people who think they are failures. There is something that happens when a person realizes they are not alone. We have often led people to think that we are something we are not.
Just like the fashion industry has pictures of supermodels that no young lady can live up, we have done the same thing with our ‘super Christians.’
But we are not perfect. All of us have our own issues. If we didn’t, we would not be human.
People need to know there is a place they can talk about their failures. Too often churches have no place for this to happen. When can a person, along with other believers, confess their sins and ask for help? When is it okay to admit you are struggling?
Every young person and adult in our churches needs this. Without it we miss out on the healing that comes with our confessions to one another. When we leave people to think they are screwed up, failures and alone, we are sentencing them to a life of misery.
It is time to be real. We can admit we make mistakes. There are incredible things that happen spiritually, emotionally, and even physically when repentance and forgiveness happen. It is time that someone sat down with this generation and said, you know what… me too. I struggled with that issue, that situation, that sin too. I am asking God to help. In this setting people have an opportunity to let God minister to the real issues they are facing and let to the healing begin.
You aren’t a failure.