theology of failure

Sometimes God calls us to a task that will fail.

SONY DSCWhat if God never promises success in what he calls us to do? What if sometimes he promises failure?  God did promise failure in the life of Ezekiel…

Ezekiel 1:1-3:15. You should read it – crazy stuff! The way God chose to reveal himself to Ezekiel is far beyond imagination. But this post is not about that. It’s about chapter 3:4-11.  After God revealed himself to Ezekiel, this is what he says…

And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.  For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel — not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand.  Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you.  But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.  Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.  Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead.  Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”  Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.  And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”

Did you catch that?  God essentially told Ezekiel, “I’m sending you to people who will never listen to what you have to say.  You will fail.”

The speaker at my church last week proposed this as a theology of failure: We need a deep understanding of the need to die to self – die to the need of success, of recognition.  Those things are about you.  They are self-focused.  Your call was not about you – it was only about God and him glorified.

So… if you knew that there would be only failure in your future service to God, would you still be faithful to the call?

This week has been a tough one for our community.  A young family’s life has been altered forever.  The father was in a terrible motorcycle accident and lost his leg.  He was in the final stages of training to be a pilot.  So I guess we could call that a failure.  What was it all for?  Will he ever be able to fly again?  (Pray for this family –

Jesus lived to the age of 33, only 3 years into his ministry.  Upon his death, he had already lost most of his followers because what he required of them was too much.  Many of his closest friends even deserted him at his death.  So yes, we could call that a failure.  But we already know the outcome of his “failure” – and it is good.

In the last part of God’s call to Ezekiel, he is saying, “Just be filled with me, listen to me, do what I say, and remain faithful, no matter what.”

Matthew 25:21 does not say “Well done good and successful servant.”  It says “Well done good and faithful servant!”

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)

If I knew that there would be only failure in my future service to God, would I still be faithful to the call?

It’s hard in our humanness to not focus on things like success and recognition.  It’s ingrained in our nature.  So how do we remain faithful in life’s failures?  We allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Ezekiel did – “…the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.” (Ezekiel 2:2)  He’s the one who sets us on our feet.  He’s the one who empowers us to go, to do, to remain faithful.

In this journey we call life, expect God to do amazing, awesome, out-of-this-world things.  Expect him to get all the glory.  Expect him to love you – oh, how he loves you – beyond any kind of love you can imagine.  But don’t count on success in everything he’s called you to do.


*Parts of this post were taken from a sermon by Rene van den Berg, a member of our community.  I thought it needed to be shared with you, too.

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