It Is Time to Look at Your Faith Failures

When there are long days and dry spells, coming home to face reality can sometimes be too much. I miss many of the greatest truths because the lesson is right in front of my face. They are in the mirror looking right back at me or found in words I'd just rather ignore than own up to.

It has been panned now by many, but I am one who finds “The Last Jedi” to rank up as one of my favorite Star Wars movies. It carries with it the wisdom of Empire Strikes Back, the surprises of Return of the Jedi and at least one scene reminiscent of Phantom Menace (and it makes me cringe). It wasn’t perfect but neither are any of us and it has great moments too.

When Yoda’s force ghost appears, he does what Luke cannot, burn down the tree with the ancient Jedi texts. When Luke returns to pouting as he did when he was younger, Yoda challenges him, “Heeded my words not did you? ‘Pass on what you have learned’...strength, mastery...hmm...but weakness, folly, failure, also. Yes, failure most of all.”

Damn, I hate the way our society has managed to destroy or white wash important truths and how popular Christianity practices are complicit in the same for the Church! I cannot go into “Christian Bookstores” anymore because of the way marketing has put “Jesus” on everything from silverware to drawer pulls to make a profit. Is toilet paper next?

In the end, slick marketing becomes of more value than relationships. The idea is perpetrated that only churches that make one “feel good” (the band was awesome playing that current worship song!) or “meet a need” (thank goodness there is a children’s program and paid people so I don’t have volunteer and so drink my latte in peace), are the ones where the Holy Spirit is “moving.”

Where is the mess of the New Testament??? Come on! Where is Jesus saying, “Oh ye of little faith!” Where is Paul calling out Peter? Where is Barnabas calling out Paul? Where are there churches like the one at Colossae or Ephesus? It happens all the time. We struggle to believe. Disciples and church leaders disagree. Churches close their doors. It happened in the beginning and it still keeps happening.

We are a Church of failures. We are people of weakness and folly, too. We are a Church needing to own up to what we have failed at doing and being...and MOVE FORWARD. Not “move on” and forget but move forward, seeking to follow Jesus as best we can. We need to move forward and burn some of our “sacred writings” that don’t serve us well any longer (I am NOT speaking of the Bible but other authors and teachers and teachings and yes, United Methodists especially, we need to look at this).

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm,” says the writer of Proverbs 13:20. How do you gain wisdom? As the country song goes, “How can I be old and wise, if I ain’t ever young and crazy?” Wisdom is often gained from our errors. When I look back at what I have done in ministry and in life, the failures pile up. The follies usually occur when I repeat the mistakes failures should have taught me. As my wife reminds me, “if you know better, you can do better.”

It is time for the Church, for Christians, to not be so uptight about our failures and follies. It is past time for some of you to GET OUT OF THE BOAT and learn the lesson Peter did for yourself. It is past time for some of you to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD and leave your annual conference and pastor somewhere else OR go visit a bar and meet some heathens OR try visiting some churches with a different view of God than yours.

Some days I get tired of failing. But then I have to admit, I am not tired of learning. I am not tired of growing. I am not tired of loving. I am also not done following Jesus. So for what it is worth, I am going to try and pass on what I’ve learned...all of it.


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