"I want to introduce a new sociological category: failers. That is, people who fail on a regular basis. People like me. I am a lay pastor of a small, not growing church. I am not ordained. I am not seminary trained. I was asked to leave both bible colleges I attended. I am divorced and remarried. On any given day I am capable of being a jerk with my wife and family. I am terminally insecure...At times people irritate me, and I hide from them. I am impulsive, which causes me to say things I shouldn't and make promises I cannot keep. I am inconsistent.

"My walk with Christ is a staggering, stumbling, bungling attempt to follow Him. At times His presence is so real I can't stop the tears, and then, without warning, I can't find Him. Some days my faith is strong, impenetrable, immovable, and some days my faith is weak, pathetic, helpless, knocked about like a paper cup floating on the ocean in the middle of a hurricane. I have been a Christian for 45 years...But I am still a mess. I am light years away from being able to say with Paul, 'copy me.' I am 56 years old and still struggle, a flawed clumsy, unstable follower of Jesus and a bona fide failer. That bothers a lot of people...Some have abandoned me...Not Jesus. He refuses to give up on me. Sometimes late at night when I'm about to give up and go to sleep, I know I have heard Him weeping for me.

"You see, Jesus has a fatal flaw: He can't stay away from failures. He is a friend of failers, a lover of failers. Everyone else has given up, He seeks them out - the woman who failed at five marriages; the blind man by the pool, who had failed to get his timing down for 38 years in a row...the disciple who failed at following; the thief who failed at keeping the law; the adulterous woman who failed at moral purity; the doubting disciples who failed to believe.

"In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus told a parable about failures. A wealthy man prepared a party for his successful friends. When the day of the party arrived, all of his 'friends' decided they
couldn't come. So the host told his servants, 'go out and invite all the losers you can find - the drunks, the prostitutes, the homeless, the lame.' The host threw a party for all the failers. Jesus was defining his church. He was making it very clear that the church is more than a safe place for losers; its membership is made up of losers, failures like you and me.

"Why is it, then, that so many Christians don't like failers very much, unless they are reformed long-ago failers? Ex-failers. Practicing failers seem to be an embarrassment to today's upwardly mobile Christianity. I don't understand why. As Henry Nouwen points out, Christians have always been downwardly mobile. We're unified by our common weaknesses, our common failures, our common disappointments, our common disillusionment, our common inconsistencies. It is 'while we were yet sinners - Romans 5:8 - that Jesus is attracted to us. It is our common failure that makes us desperate enough to look, finally, to the cross, to the body of Jesus, whose blood flows and mingles with ours and graces us with His forgiveness. That is why I love Jesus so much. But He was so irresponsible with grace, so indiscriminate and reckless with forgiveness.

"In contrast, modern Christianity is so responsible with grace. It is almost as though Christ's church is afraid to squander grace, as though it were a limited resource that must be protected and dispensed cautiously. The Grace Dispensers worry that grace might be wasted or misused. Sure, go-ahead, the church can forgive one divorce, maybe two, but five? OK, Christians can forgive adultery, but...uh...we can't have sinners running wild in our churches can we?

"...Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?...You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."(Rom. 6:1,2; Gal. 5:13)

+Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli


My prayer is that you are having a great week!
R. Dwight Hill

(c) 2002 Dwight Hill Unlimited permission to copy or use is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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