unChristian: overcoming failure

Category : CS Lewis, Daniel, faith, taking action

          

It’s pretty clear that as a group Christians behave in very unChristian ways.  We simply don’t present ourselves well to the world.   

As with most things in this world, there’s probably no easy answer.  We’re all broken.  We all make mistakes.  Even our good intentions often turn out to be miserable failures.  But what should we do if we fail?  What happens when we try our best and we still screw up?

There are two things I think will help. 

1.  We don’t need to be perfect.

CS Lewis once said “a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble.”  If we could be perfect on our own, Jesus never would have had to sacrifice himself for us.  Instead we need to remember that sometimes we fall down so that we can learn to stand back up.

The Bible is filled with examples of people failing and having to learn to get back up again.  Moses killed a man.  Peter denied Jesus 3 times in one day after promising he’d never leave his side.  David committed adultery.  But their stories don’t stop at the fall.  Their stories continue, showing each of these people learning to get back up again (some faster than others). 

And that’s what God wants for us.  He wants us to get back up and be vulnerable with others, to love them, and to show them who God is. 

2.    It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”

Sometimes Christians feel if they don’t provide perfect answers to every question “outsiders” will think we don’t know what we’re talking about.  Or maybe that’s just me!

Now I believe Christianity provides an answer to everything.  The more I study who God is, the more I realize just how well Christianity explains the world around me.  But just because there are answers, doesn’t mean I know them!  And that’s an important distinction to make. 

Take Daniel’s story.  Daniel prayed for 21 days with no answer.  On the 21st day an Angel came to him and said, “I have come in response [to your prayers].  But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.” (Daniel 10: 12-13)  If this angel hadn’t explained this to Daniel he would have had no idea why his prayers had gone “unanswered.”

As Shakespeare once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Sometimes the world is so complex that we don’t know exactly what’s going on.  And you know what?  That’s okay. 

There is no way to always be perfectly Christian towards other people.  As I said, we’re all fallen and broken.  But that doesn’t mean we should give up trying.  The goal is to always move closer to resembling Jesus.  And as long as we do that, we’ll ultimately change the way “outsiders” view Christians. 

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