“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
Contrary to what some “spiritual self-help gurus” preach, the God of the Bible does not promise us success. If anything, Scripture makes clear that Christians are all-but guaranteed adversity and failure. From Paul to Peter, from Joseph to Job, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who experienced great failures both personally and professionally. Throughout these stories, Scripture reveals a God who isn’t concerned with our “success,” but is very much concerned with our sanctification and how our failures can be used to mold us into His image.
Today, more and more Christians are embracing the call to create, taking risks to bring about new businesses, ministries, art, books, music, and other forms of culture as a means of serving others. It’s never been easier to follow God’s call to create! But we must remember that the nature of creating new things is that it is risky. Failure and adversity—at least at some level—are inevitable for the Christian who is working to create things that didn’t exist before. Knowing this, how can we Christians respond to failure in a way that preaches the gospel to ourselves and others?
It all starts with transparency—a principle that the Church is severely lacking in today. We come to church on Sunday mornings, put on a happy face, and pray that we never have to progress past small talk. “Hey, how are you? I loved the picture you posted on Instagram last night! Did you watch the game?” Instead of treating our fellow Church members as brothers and sisters in Christ, our conversations are not much deeper than those we carry on with the barista at our favorite coffee shop. For many of us, church has become a country club to showcase our best selves rather than a community that gathers to honestly share our struggles and failures, secure in the grace of our brothers and sisters, and ultimately, God.
Why aren’t we more vulnerable? Because at the end of the day, we aren’t fully tapping into the gospel of Jesus Christ for our day-to-day functional salvation. Sure, we understand that it is “by grace [we] have been saved through faith,” relying on Jesus for our ticket to Heaven. But we live as if we still have something to prove, someone to impress, or something we need to do to demonstrate our worth. We treat the gospel as a “fire suit,” great for keeping us out of Hell, but not much else. In reality, the gospel is the only thing that will allow us to face struggles and failures with true peace. In the words of Timothy Keller, “Christians should be known to be calm and poised in the face of difficulty or failure. This may be the most telling way to judge if a person is drawing on the resources of the gospel in the development of personal character.”
When we are transparent about our failures, we are preaching a sermon to ourselves and the world that says our identity is rooted in Christ alone. Don’t miss this opportunity to allow God to use your failure for His glory and the good of others!