As I was struggling with my own failure in not getting the next newsletter out in time a few weeks ago, I found myself getting furious with other folks that were failing me. What a mess we are! The other day I was working through a class on the gospels that we are teaching the apprentices. This was a class from Third Millenium and the first lecture is an overview of all four gospels. The professor described the different perspectives of each of the gospel accounts and pointed out that the gospel of Mark highlights the failures of the disciples and Jesus’ disappointment with them. I read through an article by Ed Welch on disappointment and he reminded me of how disappointing Israel was to God, yet God continued to offer free grace and redemption. Jesus didn’t turn his back on the cross because of his disappointment with his disciples. Even in the night he was betrayed, they disappointed him three times when he asked them pray with him. Peter failed Jesus three times even after boldly declaring that he would not fail him even if it cost him his life. Yet, Jesus continues to show his love. Welch also said in his book, Shame Interrupted, Jesus reassured Peter after his resurrection at the beach over a fire with fish and not only forgave him for his failure but charged him with a job.
Who would go and give a job to someone who just failed them?
I recall a conversation with a fellow church member complaining that we should not include a fellow apprentice in the leadership of the youth ministry because he is a failure. In furnishing the kitchen for Christ’s Kids we had some complications with the young welder we hired to make the stainless furniture. He was a new member of the church we were excited about because we felt God was working in his life and he understood the gospel. He talked a big talk about what he could do for the kitchen but it turned out to be all hot air. After a couple of months of unanswered calls and messages and countless visits with unfulfilled assurances, we finally had to find others to finish the work.
Would Jesus exclude the irresponsible apprentice?
Would Jesus fire the incompetent welder?
My mind fires at me with a million thoughts of work experience that would say there is a big difference in enabling someone and forgiving a failure. Well, I ended up firing the welder. We took the materials he had bought and went and found others to complete the job. But the apprentice, that wasn't measuring up? I continue working with him. He really wants to improve and has shown effort and improvement.
Now as I think about the welder who failed us and still owes us money because what he gave us did not add up to what we gave him in the deposit, I wonder, do I demand he pays us back? He doesn't have it. He spent the money on the work because he under bid the job and it wasn't enough. Jesus told a parable about this. I received mercy and now I must show mercy. But someone has to pay for it. Jesus paid his blood for my sins. But who pays the cash that went out of the account? I have to. I suppose this is what it means when Jesus said that if we want to be His disciples, we have to take up our cross and follow Him. But now I must continue to pursue this young welder, not to give him any more work, but to try to help him change.