Failure is Always an Option
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring . . . Romans 9:6-7
When my kids were growing up, we loved to watch a semi-educational show in which the hosts tested various hypothesis, trying to prove or disprove them. One of our favorite phrases we learned from the show is, Failure is always an option. In their experiments, the show’s team regularly failed and had to start over in their quest for answers.
Looking back to my own upbringing, I had the opposite outlook on life. While some suffer from a feeling that they will never succeed, I just always assumed I would. Based on no particular evidence, I viewed my future with unbridled optimism. I think this was based, in part, on my faith in God. I believed that all things work together for God’s people (Romans 8:28, see blogpost from 2/10). So, as a believer, I simply couldn’t fail. I wasn’t an addict. I was a Christian.
Then, in my addiction, I lost my job. I had to go to treatment. My name was in the paper. I failed. Big-time. In the mess of my life, I came to understand that failure was indeed possible. I’d confused eternal forgiveness with an inability to cause myself misery here and now. As it turned out, I wasn’t invincible simply because of my supposed faith. Failure was still an option.
This is akin to what Paul said in today’s passage. God sent his son to save his people, but his people rejected him. The Israelites though, assumed they were still God’s chosen people. They couldn’t see that in rejecting Christ, they missed out on God’s plan. They simply assumed that whatever they did, was by definition, within God’s plan. They couldn’t comprehend failure and so they didn’t recognize it when they embraced it. Now, Paul said, God’s people aren’t the Israelites, but rather, those who follow Christ, no matter their ethnic background.
The lesson for us, is that our daily thoughts, words, and actions matter. Failure is still an option. We cannot assume that just because we claim faith that we’re golden, unable to fall. We’re still flawed, and we continue to need Christ’s transformation. If we attempt to live on cruise control, we embrace apathy and we will fail. Daily, as followers of Christ, we don’t need to live in fear, but we also must understand that we can still sin, hurting ourselves and our loved ones. So, daily, we must do what it takes to abandon ourselves and follow him.