Jesus and Failure

Alexander Pope quote

Failure is whole lot more common than success.  In his book, Break Open the Sky, Steven Bauman writes: “Despite our near-phobic fear of failure, the facts suggest that it’s a common, almost universal, experience:

  • 75 percent of venture-capital-backed start-ups fail, and 95 percent do not meet the initial expectations.
  • 40 percent of CEOs don’t last eighteen months.
  • 70 to 90 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail to add shareholder value.
  • 81 percent of new hires don’t work out.
  • 99 percent of new patents never earn a penny.
  • 95 percent of new products introduced in any given year fail.
  • 68 percent of information technology projects fail to meet their goals.
  • 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions end in failure.
  • 100 percent of all human bodies fail.

You and I put up our best faces, especially on social media.  Like a seasoned political spin doctor, we take bits and pieces of our lives and paste them into the world for all to see our good points – how witty, or beautiful, or privileged, or wealthy, or whatever is important to us – or, how right we are about everything from creating mouth-watering smoked ribs, to communicating how the economy should really work, to punching-out opinions on others like a boxing glove to the face.

Oh, my, little do we realize this is soul draining activity that only feeds the ego and places us at arms-length to the grace of God which longs for us to be real, vulnerable, and admit our deep need for the love of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus chose to identify himself with lowly failures, the poor, and maladjusted sinners, it was the successful, wealthy, and upstanding people who thought this was a waste of time.  This was not the way to build your portfolio.  The Messiah paparazzi were aghast at what they were seeing.  Jesus was spending time with failures, and he was going to become one, at least in the eyes of those who always kept a clean social media profile.

But Jesus said to them: “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do.  I didn’t come to invite good people to turn to God.  I came to invite sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)

Posturing and preening aren’t practices that get you into the kingdom of God.  In the end, they get you nowhere.

I have failed at a whole lot more things than I’ve been successful at in life.  Truth be told, all of us have a few wild successes at things that we like to highlight, and a house full of failure that we try to cram into that one closet nobody is allowed to open.

We all share the common human condition of failure.  You can’t put the pure living water of Jesus in the cup of your life if its already full of the toilet water that looks clean but is full of nasty bacteria.

What to do?  Empty yourselves.  Pour out the potty water of peacocking your way through life, and simply let Jesus dwell in you through faith.  Sit at his feet.  Drink him in.  Let your plans go.  Let new goals seep into your soul.  Be filled with the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  And you will find yourself full of life, love, and devotion to serve the common good of all people.  Even if you fail doing it, you’re in good company.

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