It’s that time again. Someone pushed that button that demands a response. So. Here we go.
I have been listening to our local Christian radio station lately. They have featured some artists that I worked with years ago. They have also run some really good teachings from pastors I never heard of before. But a few days ago, they ran a short spot from a nationally recognized pastor. A guy who I have heard for a long time. Someone I had a lot of respect for.
He went into a teaching piece, that turned into pure opinion. He had me very frustrated.
What he said, was that once a man falls or makes some big mistake, God can never use him again. He said God forgives and heals, but once a man falls, he is done with any real service for the rest of his life. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I tried to find something reasonable in his words, but just couldn’t.
Let’s be very honest. I am not the man I was before. Before my attitude went south and I became abusive, I was a hardcore Christian. Practically living in the church. Teaching and preaching whenever the opportunity arose. Serving in whatever capacity was needed. Placing myself under the leadership and studying authority. Doing all could do to prove myself worthy of a lifetime of ministry.
Yeah. I was that guy.
After the marriage fell apart, the divorce papers, the utter foolishness that could have had me locked up or committed, my life changed. I was confronted with my sin and failure. My eyes were opened to the kind of man I had become. My family was restored and we began the process of getting our life back on track. It was a long and difficult process. It still is some days.
To anyone examining my daily life, I may not even look like a Christian. Depending on your idea of what a Christian looks like, I might not qualify. If you don’t know my story, you might not believe a guy like me ever had any credential as a ministry driven believer. Think whatever you want. It is irrelevant.
When I think of men failing or falling, there are a few standouts.
That Thomas guy. The disciple. That guy had a slight faith issue. He said he needed to see it to believe it. Even after walking with Christ personally, he wasn’t sure if he could believe it all. Oh doubting Thomas, how could you be used by God?
What about Peter? How many of us have been directly challenged about our relationship with Christ like he was? How many of us have openly denied Christ like that? I think Peter learned from that and went on to do much greater ministry afterwards. Whatever great things he accomplished, while walking with Christ were nothing, compared to the life he lived after that failure.
Don’t forget Paul. That guy was a crazed nut for God. Even to the point of attacking the believers who didn’t believe the same way as him. He was respected by the old church and feared by the new. He literally fell… Off his horse. Had to readjust everything he believed and fought for after that. Had to admit he was wrong and move forward. I think he ended up with a pretty solid ministry after that.
There are others.
The woman taken in adultery. We don’t know much about her, but I bet she had a story to tell after she met Christ. I bet she shared the whole nasty mess and then proclaimed a living God that loved her when others wouldn’t. A savior who gave her life when the hyper religious crowd wanted her dead.
The woman with the issue of blood. The religious leaders called her unclean by Old Testament law, Christ called her healed. She probably drew a few folks into the church after that. Those stories of healing and mercy are priceless.
How about that King David character? Murderer, adulterer, living with pagans, pretending to be crazy. That guy had issues. That guy must have been completely unworthy of any relationship with God, after all that. No? He was ultimately called a man after God’s own heart. A man who was able to forgive. To praise. To dance. To take everything life handed him and treat it like it came directly from God Himself. A guy who failed miserably on so many occasions, but kept getting back up. He may not have built the temple, but he did everything he could to prepare it.
These are people rejected by religion or considered failures, according to the law. People who were imperfect or made bad choices. People who failed when their faith was tested. People who just weren’t good enough by certain standards.
Just like most of us.
I don’t claim to be a minister or even have a ministry. I am just a guy who failed miserable and got blindsided by grace. A guy who got a second chance after doing religion the wrong way. Someone who put himself in a position where he desperately needed God, and God came through.
Maybe this qualifies as ministry, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. I believe God is using this recovering knucklehead more now, than ever before. I believe that, in spite of my imperfections and failures, the love and grace of God proves itself daily. If I was good enough, based on my own merits and perfection, I might not need that grace so much. If we were all capable of being good enough for God to use, Christ could have scratched the cross off His to-do list.
The issue is never about how perfect we are. It’s about how good our God is. It’s about His love for us. It’s about His goodness. Turning the focus on how perfect we are, is a pretty sure recipe for disaster. Keep lifting yourself up and you will get that amazing view before you fall. Don’t tell me how much better you are than me. Sounds like that story about the tax collector and pharisee.
Your righteousness is just filthy rags anyway. Poopy diapers. Right?
Don’t let the overly religious folks keep you from serving God and becoming a better man. Don’t accept that your failures are permanent or that they can cage you into a useless life. It’s not true. Get back up. Adjust your sails. Repent of the sins and failures and move forward. Nobody is perfect. All have sinned. All need redemption. Nobody can judge your sins as worse than theirs. Get your forgiveness and get back in the game.
The name of the game is relationship. God is love, He wanted someone to love. Here we are. Simple. He loves you in spite of what you have done. He knows that we aren’t perfect. He knows what we are capable of. He loves us anyway.
Don’t be a dumb sheep and let the delusional religious crowd tell you what you are worth. Christ loved you enough to sacrifice Himself and take responsibility for you. Honor that love. Get back up.