Failure is not the end

Good Monday Morning to this week 02/2019

Shortly before Christmas I was challenged again with the thought patterns, ideas and beliefs leading to the Theology of Prosperity. Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

We could go into the many faces of poverty, economic injustices, financial dependencies, unemployment, or issues around ownership, material resources, use of land along with many other restrictions and injustices. Questions as notions of communal ownership of land of stewardship or the even the redistribution of resources and possessions from the rich to the poor come to mind. We’ll go there another time,  to John Fischer’s book; Theology of Possession.

But how can Theology of Failure help us currently in a world so much in need of change?

Mark 6:1-13, Jesus comes back to his hometown. He tries to do some great things for the people, but they reject him. Jesus just spent a few months doing some pretty amazing things, traveled from town to town and people are blessed by His power and authority: healing people, driving demons and feeding the poor. With his homecoming, he uses the same approach but only to fail. How could this happen? How could the Son of God fail?

Could it be here where the, theology of failure comes in, isn’t it often so in life , that if something fails, where things do not go as planned, where ways of thinking do not lead to success, where expectations are disappointed where projects remain inconclusive and where intentions simply fail, that we need redirection or another perspective?

1 Corinthians 1:28; God chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes, nobodies, so that He would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent.

John Navone, an American Jesuit priest answered to Pope Francis as follows:
Theology of Failure is a book I wrote about how Jesus lived patiently. In the experience of limits, patience is forged in dialogue with human limits and limitations. There are times when our lives do not call so much for our ‘doing’ as for our ‘enduring,’ for bearing up with our own limitations and those of others. Being patient means accepting the fact that it takes time to mature and develop. Living with patience allows for time to integrate and shape our lives. The failure to patiently affirm and support others is the failure to love as Jesus loved and taught us to love. When he taught us the Lord’s Prayer, the only aspect of human relations he mentions is that of our needing to forgive finite, limited others as we, too, have been forgiven.

Markus Müller put’s this in other words:

Failure is not the end of things but very often the very beginning. Some things need to go a level deeper before they can grow. Look at the many seeds needing a certain amount of depth and darkness in order to germinate. God being strong in the weak is not meant to emphasize the weak but is embedded in the compassion of God. Weakness and failure are aligned and put in the order of Him who has all power in future of heaven and earth.

Failure is not in contradiction to success. Through the compassion and grace of God, failure finds a new expression in the power of God and His works. In this light, failure leads us to strength. This is relevant not only to individual failure but also collective failure as seen in people groups, cultures, churches and society. Paul sums this up wonderfully in the verse:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who strengthens me.
Therefore taking weakness and failure seriously, is not just trying to overcome or avoid it, but seriously tackling it, leading us to transformation, to a renewing of our mind and thoughts. The opposite of failure is now; hope and faith and not success.

Heavenly Father, Son and Spirit, In your light we truly see; In your love we truly love; In your freedom we are truly free; In your peace we are truly at peace; In your joy we are truly joyful; In your wisdom we are truly wise; In your strength we are truly strong; In your goodness we are truly good; In your life we are truly alive; in your beauty we are truly beautiful; in your happiness we are truly happy. In you alone, we live and move and have our being. In you alone, we have this hope of unending joy.

Wishing a great start this week!
Philemon

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