We Are All Failures (And It’s a Good Thing)

I went to see Tron Legacy today (in 3D no less), I will leave you to make your own assumptions about the movie and/or watching it.  But as I left the theatre God put a thought into my head as a half formed movie script to teach me something about myself, and how we act in regards to our call, and God:

Opening Scene

A man is kneeling before a great king, and is given powers by the king to perform miraculous feats.  He is given authority over a region of the country, and is their benefactor, bringing healing to the people, and peace to the land.  (What he can actually do is not important.  The fact that he has been given “powers” is).

One day an evil man entered the region and challenged this man in battle.  It is your classic good vs. evil, or so both men thought.  Good always wins out over evil, right?  Not in this case, “good” lost, he was not killed, only defeated, because the evil man wanted to see “good” suffer as he looted and pillaged the land and attacked those he loved. 

“How could this happen!?  I did what you asked!!  I did everything I could, everything I knew how to do” the “good” man yells up into the sky, and falling to his knees screams  “What more do you want from me!?”. 

From behind him he hears a voice full of peace and power, “That is the problem.  I never asked you to do this on your own.  It was never your power to begin with and it was never about how good you could use the powers I gave you, but how much you trusted me.”  The man whirls around to see the Great King.  The man realizes that he has made a great mistake because he had always thought that his “powers” were about him and how good he was at using them.

Victory

The Great King tells him to stand, places his hands on the man’s shoulders and looks him in the eyes and says “I have always believed in you.  Now believe in me.  Face him once more, but this time know that I am with you.  That it is I who operate the powers you have been given, but I choose to do so through you.  I send you as my ambassador.  It is you the people will see, but you must help them understand that it is I who do these things through you.”

So the man went forth to challenge “evil” once more, this time with confidence not born of his own ability, but of his king and his king’s ability.  “Good” won this day with ease because it was not his effort that won, but his trust in his king.

The Moral of the Story

It is obvious, I’m sure, that the king is Jesus, that “good” is us, and “evil” is the things in this life that challenge God’s authority (be it sickness, the devil, or selfish man).

To help make the point, I want to tell you a real story.  A warlock went to a church, wanting to see if the Christians had something worth having.  He took the pastor out behind the church in the middle of winter and commanded a tree to blossom, and it did.  When the warlock asked the Christian what he had, the pastor didn’t know how to respond.  The warlock left that day disappointed in Christianity.  If the pastor could have performed a miracle, the warlock said he would have become a Christian.

Now I think the warlock came with the wrong premise.  Yes, Christianity, by nature, involves a battle, but it is not a battle between good and evil, but a battle for our souls.  A battle for who we will follow, God or our own selfishness (because most people don’t really choose to follow the devil, they just choose not to follow God, which is the same thing).  And the warlock came to pit his power against the pastor’s power, and would have followed the one with the most power.

When we give in and try to do this, when we try to prove that God is more powerful, then we miss the point.  God is omnipotent,  and all authority belongs to him.  Since the cross, the devil no longer has authority, it has been taken away by Jesus.  All the pastor had to do was stop, and wait for God to act.  God most likely would have acted through the pastor, would have instructed him to do something, if only he had / would have listened.

My Confession

I find it kind of funny that I am the one writing these posts.  I know that they come from revelation that God gives me (I’m not trying to boast, quite the opposite as you will see).  But I also know that though they are true, I am far from embodying a lot of what I say here.  I guess it’s God way of teaching me both what I need to change, and the humility necessary to change.  I used to come to God thinking that I was bringing something to him, that I was something.  I would come thinking “I have done this.  I have overcome this sin.  I have given this word / prophetic word” and expecting God to praise me or something.  Now… I have nothing to bring.  I come to God not because He has need of me, but because I need him.  I am stripped bear before God.  And it is only then that we can truly see God, truly know God.  The proud are far from God, but he gives grace to the humble.  I never thought I would feel so good about being a “failure” 🙂  So if you think I write these things because I somehow have figured it out, you will be disappointed.  I’m as messed up as you, but God’s not finished with me (or you) yet 🙂

Bible Lesson Time

Ok, let’s back this all up with Scripture 🙂  I have to thank Dan Britton (my friend, boss, and associate pastor at my church) for some of this explanation.  We were talking yesterday about Luke 17:7-10 (Though I admittedly did not connect that talk with this post until now):

7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Luke 17:7-10 (ESV)

We are called to obey God, we should not expect praise for obedience.  When we approach God, we should do so in humility because we know who we are, and we know who He is, and how big the difference is.  But when we come realizing this, and our own inability to close the gap, God draws near to us, he helps us in our weakness:

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV)

Some other scriptures:

4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4 (ESV)

18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

And finally:

12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?

Acts 3:12 (ESV)

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