I remember going to the altar at my church. Actually, I remember going many times to give my life to God or to rededicate my life to Him after some wayward living. It became quite a routine. When I was a teen at some point at every camp, convention, or special event I would finally give in to the Holy Spirit and walk up that aisle to give it another try. I never took these attempts lightly. I was really coming to a point where I was saying, ‘God I am giving You my life’.
But at some point I realized it was a pattern. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I prayed, no matter how much time I spent at the altar, how many people laid hands on me, how much shouting, a few days, weeks, or sometimes even hours after a real attempt to give my life to God I would be back to my old ways.
After years of trying over and over again and always failing I came to a conclusion I could not be a Christian. I had given it a sincere effort but I could not keep it together long term. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, that sooner or later I would fail. I couldn’t do what all those around me claimed to be doing.
It is in this place of constantly failing that guilt begins to consume you. It starts with thinking there must be something wrong with you. I knew I was born sinful, and my sinful nature must be so strong that there was no hope of making it as a Christian. This is the most miserable place to be. Wanting one thing, but not being able to have it; thinking there is something wrong with you, feeling guilty for what you are doing, and being caught in a cycle it seems you can never win.
The only thing that is sure is that you want out of it. However, after so many attempts to win, you realize you can’t. The only way out of the trap, out of the guilt, out of the internal and external condemnation, out of the routine, out of this miserable place, is to get out of the situation. It is coming to a point where we realize we are ‘Christian Failures’. We come to a point when we believe we will be happier when we just stop trying. The truth is I was happier when I stopped. I got out of a losing battle that was eating me up on the inside. Life seemed so much better once I got away from guilt and condemnation.
Failure is the one thing we will all have to deal with. We feel the effects when other people fail. You can get hurt. You can become bitter. As much as other people’s failures bother us there is one person, who when they mess up, can cause us the most grief. That person is you. Your own failure is often the hardest to deal with.
So many youth and young adults are dealing with this issue we have come up with a term for it. A ‘Christian Failure’ is a person who has tried over and over to live a Christian life. They have sincerely tried many times. They would say that the Holy Spirit has convicted them of sin. They have talked to God about it many, many times. Yet despite their best efforts they have kept falling back into the same trap they started in.
This has caused many young people to come to the conclusion that they can’t make it. Something must be wrong with them. Perhaps this God thing is just not for them. Even though they start out with good intentions, failure is always at the end. Soon guilt and condemnation are the only emotions that their faith stirs up. This is where so many give up or look for a solution to make it all end. For many the easiest solution to end the mess they find themselves in is to walk away.
Then there are many young people who feel like they could never measure up to what the Church expects of them. It may appear they have been asked to join a faith that seems to make life way more difficult. Some feel like they have been set free to only become a slave to a different system.
The good news is that there is ‘Good News’. There is a reason why the gospel was considered the ‘good news’ to those who heard it. Just think about this. In Old Testament days people has to do work to get rid of their sin. They had to make sacrifices. They had to do the right things and pay a price. In Jesus day it seemed to many that only the elite and religious could get to God. It was limited to a certain few, the gifted, the ones with it all together, and with no problems. Then Jesus showed up and everything changed when He said, ‘It is Finished’.
In scripture we read, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23) It is true there is a price for sin and consequences for our actions. It is not even just an issue for you. We also read, ‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23). This may not sound like good news yet but please understand none of us are good enough for God. Every last person has messed up. Not just a few. All.
So what do we do? It may sound like strange advice but here it is. Stop trying. You should just give up. You may as well realize now you can’t do it. Don’t waste anymore time trying.
One of the reasons the Good News of Jesus is truly good is because it ends the striving to be good enough. A truly free life begins when we accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sin. That He paid the price in full. This free and amazing gift is available for anyone who believes. The truth is you can’t be good enough, but Jesus is. Part of the reason you may feel like a failure is because you are trying to fight a fight that Jesus already won. It is not your fight. Freedom in Christ begins with knowing Jesus has, or can, set us free. Repent now and walk in freedom. You were made to be free.
When we stop our own attempts, our works, and our ideas then we can come to a place where we just say, ‘Jesus, you do it‘. Even though the Bible does not teach that we keep ourselves saved in our own strength many have fallen back into the endless cycle. Salvation is a total work bought by the blood and grace of Jesus. It is a gift of God. He calls and He keeps. He really is, ‘Mighty to Save.’