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