Scripture teaches us that our lives are eternally changed through faith in Jesus work on the cross, but I think if we are honest we don’t feel eternally changed. When we look in the mirror we don’t see change. When we think about what we did last night it doesn’t feel like change. I think if we are honest, we feel like we are letting people down a lot of the times and we feel like a failure.
Here is why. We live in a world of chaos and frustration. Often times that chaos and frustration leads to pain. We experience pain through verbal abuse and how we talk to each other, sexual abuse in how we treat one another, and sometimes it is so painful we keep people at a distance because we are afraid they are going to hurt us or even worse, that we would hurt them.
Over time, as we live with that pain it begins to turn into a pattern. It shapes our thinking, our lives, our decision making and before long those patterns start to turn into habits. We begin to see people, events, and ourselves in a certain light because of those habits. We become skeptical, cynical, judgmental, and unfortunately the habits become so frequent we find ourselves starting to feel comfortable with those habits. Even though they started in pain we stop seeing the pain and it becomes so familiar that it becomes comfortable. Thus the feelings of failure. Pains turn into patterns, patterns turn into habits, habits turn into comfort.
Sometimes it becomes so weaved into our thinking, emotions and behaviors that in time it begins to become our identity. How many times have you found yourself saying, “That’s just the way I am, that’s what I do, I always…” and when we look back on our life we see the same mistakes over and over and in time we just assume that’s who we are and what started as pain becomes our identity. This is the beginning of why we feel like failures.
This is the gospel: Jesus enters human history to take responsibility for our failures. He succeeds where we fail. He responds in obedience where we respond in rebellion. It is because Jesus takes responsibility of our failures at the cross that we can admit we are failures. Do we fail? Absolutely. But it doesn’t mean we are failures because Jesus has died for our failures at the cross and given us a new identity.
Our faith in Jesus gives us a new identity. If we should find ourselves feeling like a failure then we would do well to confess our lack of belief in the gospel. We can readily admit our failure, even in our unbelief of the gospel, we can admit our failures because Jesus has taken our failures at the cross. We can own it, confess it, and turn to Jesus to be reminded of our identity, not in our pain, but in Him. It is the power of the gospel that allows for our failures to simply be a reminder of all we have been given in Jesus.
What if our identity wasn’t in our failures, but in Jesus? That is why we read the Bible, that is why we pray, that is why we gather as a church, that is why we serve the community, that is why we give our lives because we are exhausted by this old identity of failure, and we want to learn and live in this new life in Jesus.