I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago called “What if you feel like quitting?” I wrote it after I saw someone arrive at my blog after typing these words into a search engine: “what to do when you feel like turning away from Christianity?”
Well, the other night I noticed another search that resulted in a visit to this blog. This time the search was this: “I am a failure at Christianity.”
The emotion and hopelessness of those words have haunted me for three days now. Someone, somewhere sat down at their computer in a moment of despair and typed those words, hoping to find some solace or comfort. I have tried to imagine what prompted their resignation. What failure or sin caused this sad admission? I have prayed for that person in the days following, and I feel like I must respond.
There are two emotions that hit me as I think about that sentence, “I am a failure at Christianity.”
The first is compassion on the precious person who wrote it. I pray you will find hope and forgiveness. I hope you will find a way through Christ to get back up and keep going.
The second emotion I feel is anger. I am angry at a church culture that has made it possible for someone to feel like a failure at Christianity. I am angry that we have reduced the incredible grace of God, his undeserved favor, into a set of rules to keep and sins to avoid. I am angry that we have created an atmosphere where those who have trouble keeping our rules feel less than worthy of Christ and less than deserving of His grace.
You see, it’s actually impossible to fail at Christianity. If it were possible to fail, that would mean we have something to do with our own redemption. If it were possible to fail, that would mean there is something more than the cross that is necessary for salvation. If it were possible to fail, that would mean my salvation has more to do with me than it does with God.
None of those things are true. We are saved by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ. We most definitely do not deserve it. God has acted completely out of His own love for us. He has offered us forgiveness completely apart from anything we can do to earn or deserve it. The Bible tells us in Romans 5 that Christ died for us “while we were yet sinners.” That’s the good news, plain and simple. And the love and grace that saved you once is the same love and grace that continues to save you every minute of every day.
The only way we could ever fail at Christianity would be to not accept it. It’s a free gift, and the only way to fail with a gift is if we will not take it.
So to the person who wrote those words, I encourage you to believe. You are actually at the very place God wants you to be. We are all failures, and it’s only when we are finally able to admit that fact that we are able to receive His mercy. When you confess your failure and cry out to God, that’s when forgiveness starts to flow.
And to the rest of us, I encourage us to evaluate what we believe. Do we really believe in grace? Do we really believe salvation is a free gift from God, and that there is nothing we can do to earn it? I think many of us in the church see the sin and degradation around us and feel like we need to take a stand against it. But look at how Jesus treated sinners. It was always with love, mercy and compassion.
Unfortunately those things seem to be in short supply to far too many “sinners” today.
For further reading, check out this post as well: Being disillusioned is a good thing
#1 by Geof Kirby on June 30, 2011 - 12:20 PM
This post was much needed. In trying to get back to where God wants/needs me to be, I have failed a couple of times at a few struggles I’ve carried with me over the years. It sucks because I keep beating myself up, then beating myself up for beating myself up. I have felt like I failed a few times.
Thanks for the encouragement. Very VERY much so needed right now. 🙂
#2 by Dave Kirby on June 30, 2011 - 2:05 PM
Beating ourselves up only results in feeling beaten up. Nothing good from telling ourselves how bad we are. God loved us first, and will love us last. Don’t focus on actions, focus on Jesus. Falling in love with Him is the key to overcoming all those other things.
#3 by Rick on June 30, 2011 - 12:31 PM
I have said those words & feel those words at this time in my life!!! I have googled, I am a failure a being a Christian. I am in pain right now. I trust very few people & having a hard time trusting God. My life has been full of rejection before becoming a Christian & now rejection has been the same in the church. I know that Jesus is holding on to me & that is the only hope I have. This is just a short note. I am in pain & depression.
#4 by Dave Kirby on June 30, 2011 - 2:04 PM
I’m sorry that you feel that way. God is truly trustworthy. He knows your pain, He knows your failures, He knows your fears. I have been there, and felt like everything I had ever done had ended in failure. Know that God does not view you that way. I’m going to say some words to you that you may not believe, but I want you to think about them and let them sink into your heart. Ready? God is proud of you, and He is SO glad you are His child. I had a hard time accepting those words and believing them, but when I did it was such a freeing experience.
God is proud of you. He loved you while you were a sinner, and there is nothing you can or will ever do that will change that. Live in His grace.
I’m praying for you brother!
#5 by Terry Sanford Smith on July 2, 2011 - 3:42 PM
Thank you for letting the Spirit speak through you. I was thinking and praying for my friend who is depresed and feels like giving up and I had the same thought you articulated. I believe he is sitting at the greatest moment in his life to hear the Father speak the very words you wrote: “I am so proud of you! I have always loved you and I have come to destroy the lie of rejection that has been handed to you by people. When my son prayed before he died, ‘Father, help them understand that you love them as much as you love me,’ I was thinking about you.” Jesus is near by the power of the Holy Spirit to establish you as a full son on the deepest level of your life. Thank you for praying for my friend. The Father’s Spirit is in him and Satan is losing the battle for his soul. He has won and I pray HIs hunger to meet with his “Abba,” our “Abba” will continue to deepen. Thank you! Your Story Matters http://www.yourstorymatters2him.wordpress.com
#6 by Dave Kirby on July 3, 2011 - 9:24 PM
Thanks for your kind words, Terry. I will pray for your friend, and for you as you continue to speak those life-giving words.
#7 by Ashley on August 16, 2012 - 11:48 AM
The idea of Grace helps for those who want to make it to Heaven, as the idea is commonly known.
What about for those people who just want to be good people, or as good as can be, while they live on this earth? To be happy, stress free, confident individuals who put others before themselves even in matters of dissent? Who stand up where others are bullied, teased, mistreated, not because God tells them too, but because they feel inside that it is wrong for others to be treated this way? Why can we not be good to one another for the sake of shared humanity if for nothing else? I am sick of being unhappy…unhappy about the state of the world, unhappy about my current quagmire with the Lord, unhappy that I can’t do basic things to help me manage stress and the insecurities of my life. I need something practical to help me survive. Reading the bible and praying doesn’t do anything, except maybe make me more depressed. I can’t keep rules that don’t go to my heart, even if Christ is compelling me too. I believe in being honest in all things, and treating people with the utmost respect. All Christianity has taught me so far is to group people in collectives based on sins, and tell everyone they are wrong without any practical help at how to remedy the situation except to tell them about someone who is in heaven that if you pray too long enough he may possibly do something, if you pray according to His will. That sounds like a load of crap even to me.
Christianity is no longer for me. I am tired of the struggle. I am tired of the sleepless nights. I am tired of trying to live by a book that in no way provides me with the ability of improving my life. I don’t hope for Heaven. I just want the best life I can live now. ( I am also cringing at that line as the charlatan Olsten made millions off of it.)
#8 by Dave Kirby on August 16, 2012 - 4:03 PM
I agree. I too am tired of the struggle, of feeling that nagging sense of guilt, of trying to live up to a standard that was neither imposed nor endorsed by Jesus. That’s why this site is called “Quitting Christianity.” Because I’m done with their false notion of what it means to follow Jesus. And I’m done associating myself with a religion that couldn’t be more opposite than the Jesus they claim to serve.
I want to encourage you, though, that the idea of Christianity you described is a false notion of what it is to follow Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find REST for your souls.” If you are not feeling that rest, then you have not truly experienced Jesus. The word “gospel” means “good news.” What we hear of Christianity today certainly does not sound like good news. Especially to those who are outcast, marginalized, condemned and excluded. (The specific people Jesus seemed to be attracted to most.)
I wholeheartedly encourage you to give up on Christianity, but please do not give up on Jesus. He loves you unconditionally. He died to relieve you of the struggle, of the nagging guilt, of the rules. Accept His free gift of letting you off the hook. No list of rules you must assent to. No club to join.
You are loved, you are accepted just like you are. It’s not really about going to heaven. It’s more about experiencing that heaven here on earth. There are people who understand how you feel. It’s my dream to be able to connect those like you and me with others who feel the same way, so that we can support and love each other the way Christ commanded us to do.
Please don’t give up on Jesus without truly experiencing who He really is.
#9 by Ashley on August 16, 2012 - 8:45 PM
I have not experienced liberty or ease of burden. I am entangled my a strangling sort of yoke. I yearn for freedom I cannot find. Freedom from sin, turning fully from one path to another. I am tired of waiting around on God to change my heart. So much of the NT seems like doctrine built on empty promises. I have had 10 years worth of pain and struggle. I am simply exhausted from the fight. I purpose to live according to my heart, natural law, universally accepted societal constraints. I no longer wish to add to my plate even harsher classifications of sin. Not worrying about them will give me more freedom than sitting around praying about it. It is not my wish to be difficult but I have reached the end of my rope. I am a despairing, disillusioned mess wanting a clean break. I am swaying on the precipice of forsaking everything I believe and seeking some new way, if a new way may be found.