Today I want to address having the courage to fail.
We live in a culture that teaches that if you fail, you are an outcast. But what we call failure and what God calls failure are two different things. The cross is an example of this. The world, shaking their fists at Jesus hanging, thought He was a failure.
Little did they know that the cross is the greatest triumph in the history of the world.
I was disturbed a few weeks ago listening to a CNN report that said atheists are more vocal about their beliefs than Christians. I’ve said before that there is an epidemic of silence in the Church as it relates to people going public with their faith. This report confirms that.
Our belief in Jesus is certainly personal, but it’s never intended to be private. People like to say that their life is their witness, and rightly so. If you’re not walking your talk, you should keep your mouth shut. But Scripture says that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). Somewhere along the line, we’ve got to go public in our identity with Christ.
Another line I hear of often is that “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” That’s a cop out.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he was writing to someone who did not have the gift of evangelism, but Paul still admonished Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).
We’re all called to get the message of the redeeming love of Christ out in our networks and relationships regardless of our giftings. The work of an evangelist is given to each of us. That’s why when you have opportunity to develop relationships with unbelievers, go for it.
Don’t get in a holy huddle of friendship solely with other Christians.
God intended us to be salt and light. Our mandate is “you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and until the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8b). Often, we get the uttermost part of the earth down while neglecting our local networks.
This is why we have to be intentional in our relationships with unbelievers. We need to keep this at the forefront of our mind because this is our mandate. We’ve got to be proactive in going public with our identity in Jesus Christ because, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
I think our fear of failure is one of the greatest things that keeps us from going public with Jesus. I’ve been sharing Christ for a number of years and still have fear about the “what ifs.” I believe this is from the enemy and that we have to keep fighting against his condemnations.
Something I think about in moments of fear is this Blaise Pascal quote:
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”
We can be confident that people who do not know Christ have a hole in their hearts that can only be filled Him. It is our responsibility to sow seeds as we point them to Christ.
Let’s listen carefully to what Paul, who shared the gospel with fear and trembling, says to Christians in Thessalonica.
“You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.” -1 Thessalonians 2:1-6a
At some point, we have to decide about whose applause we are really living for—our peer’s or our God’s applause. With that in mind, I believe this quote from A.W. Tozer applies to us today:
“The static periods were those time when the people of God tired of the struggle and sought a life of peace and security […] As long as they ‘went forth and preached everywhere,’ the Lord worked ‘with them … confirming the Word with signs following’ (Mark 16:20). But when they retreated to monasteries or played at building pretty cathedrals, the help of God was withdrawn […] In every denomination, missionary society, local church or individual Christian, this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly: He ceases when they no longer need His aid.”
Today’s takeaway is this: I dare you. I dare you to ask God to give you somebody that you can point to Jesus in some way this week.