How to not fail at Christianity

Do you ever feel like you are failing at your faith?  Maybe you surrendered to that sin that you thought you had behind you.  Fail.  Maybe you just don’t feel close to God.  Fail.  Maybe you have no desire to participate in church.  Fail again.  Maybe you had the perfect chance to talk with someone about Jesus, but you kept quiet instead. Guilt ridden fail.  There are lots of opportunities to blow it and get down about it.  But, I have some excellent news.

Falling is not failing.

I was recently reading through the account of the night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas and found some serious encouragement.  Check out what Jesus says to Simon Peter in Luke 22:31,32

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

It is the final night that Jesus has with his disciples.  His betrayal is in motion.  Jesus gave them the model of communion that would be their remembrance of his sacrifice.  He taught them about being servants and then he turns to Peter and warns him that a great test is coming.  Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for his faith to not fail, yet we know Peter’s denials of Christ are going to come before morning.  It would seem like Peter did fail.  I know it felt like failure to Peter.  The Scripture says that Peter wept bitterly after his third denial.  I imagine Peter crying out “Why did I do that?”  Been there?  Too many times, right?  Me too.

Yet Jesus had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail.  One of two things must be true.

1.  Jesus’ prayer wasn’t answered.

OR

2.  Peter’s story wasn’t finished and his denial didn’t constitute failure.

I choose number two.  In the moment, Peter’s denial had to feel like a failure of the worst kind.  He couldn’t even admit he knew Jesus to a servant girl.  He couldn’t even stay faithful to Jesus until morning.  Luke 22:61 tells us that after Peter’s third denial, Jesus was able to make eye contact with Peter from where he was being held.  Can you imagine how Peter felt in that moment.  He had devoted his life to this man who was now in a battle for his life and he blew it and Jesus saw him blow it.  Yet, the story wasn’t over for Peter and it isn’t over for us either.  It might feel like the end.  It might feel like you have crossed some precipice.  It might feel like the point of no return has been passed, but it’s not true.

Remember what Jesus said to Peter?  “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  Jesus knew Peter would fall, but Jesus also knew that he would get back up.  And that’s the deal.  We are all going to fall.  We are all going to sin.  We are all going to say, think, and do horrible things.  Whether we fail or not depends on what we do next.  Do we listen to Satan’s lies and brand ourselves “disqualified” or do we get up, turn back to Jesus and try again?  Success or failure is determined in that moment of decision.

Falling isn’t failing.  Falling is a part of growing up.  I remember the day that I learned to ride my bike with no training wheels.  My brothers sat on the tail gate of our black Ford truck at the end of the driveway and laughed as I wiped out again and again.  I fell and I fell some more, but it was part of learning.  It is also that way for us in this walk with Christ.  We might fall.  We might get a little bruised, but that isn’t the end of the story.  God has grace for you and he is generous with it.  You can read more about that here.

I love that not only is Jesus okay with Peter turning back after his fall, but he also gives him responsibility.  “Strengthen your brothers.”  Jesus knew that his men were going to be confused and hurt and scared after the crucifixion.  Jesus was counting on Peter to strengthen them.  Love it.  God doesn’t accept us back with strings attached.  He goes all the way, forgiveness and something important to do.   Jesus is about grace and more grace.

So, if you feel like you are failing in your walk with God, don’t surrender to those lies.  Your story is not over.  Keep getting up.  Keep turning away from sin.  Keep turning to Jesus.  You only fail, if you fall and don’t get up.

 

“for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again”   -Proverbs 24:16

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