Supporting laos ministry ...

the Christian ministry of the whole people of God.

Success and failure

Once more, allbelievers eReflections are go!  Sorry it's been so long - the cottage refurbishment took us over.  A success?  We're delighted with the outcome and enjoyed the journey with the building team, so yes.  Or … did we fail because we missed the deadline and went over-budget?

Success and failure are very much in the news, what with (UK) school exam results and the Olympics, including Paula Radcliffe's dramatic retirement after 22½ miles of the marathon, with attendant comment and speculation.  Was it the heat?  The terrain?  The weight of public expectation?  Did she simply give up?  And is she still a ‘successful’ athlete?  Her own judgement is that “I just feel I have let everybody down” (despite continuing to hold the world record!).

How, then, does our heavenly Father see ‘success’? The few occurrences in the Bible link it to God's involvement, for example “David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him” (1 Sam 18:14).  Of Joseph and Nehemiah (the builder!), similar language is used (Gen 39:2; Neh 2:20).  Perhaps I cannot have Godly success without his being ‘with’ me, which requires that I be committed to his will and purposes.

Likewise, if the criterion of Christian success is ultimately to hear Jesus’ “Well done, good and trustworthy slave …” note that the Greek translated 'trustworthy' here is used of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties.  It's to do with using God-given ability faithfully on God's agenda, the level of achievement being less of an issue.  In Jesus’ parable (Mt 25:14-30), how many talents were given out or made is entirely secondary to attitude and endeavour.  Take heart all those who studied and revised hard, but didn't get the grades they hoped for.

But there is a note of caution. This morning I've been checking the watertightness of the central heating system, and am happy (delirious!) to report no leaks.  In this department only 100% will do - a tiny dribble may cause dry rot that could spread through the entire building.  A bit like sin, really.  Which may be why the only Bible references on personal failure are to do with not walking in God's ways*.

Finally, I hope it's not self-indulgent to consider how successful Connected Community Learning has been in developing eLearning to equip the ministry of all Christian believers.  We now have 7 full-length courses and another under development, all promoting 'equip-ment', but learners have been disappointingly few.  Success or failure?  Here I'm helped by Jeremiah, who “spoke to all the people of Judah … : ‘For twenty-three years, … the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. …’” (25:3).  Twenty-three years, without achieving the goal the Lord gave him!  CCL started in embryo four years ago; maybe we shouldn't give up yet.  We are trying to gain more publicity but meanwhile please tell others (and yourself) to visit to find out what Christian learning is on offer this autumn - and contribute to CCL's success!

Yours in Christ

Peter Nicholls

* eg Dt 8:11, Neh 1:7, 2 Cor 13:5-7, Jas 2:10

Christian leaders: Archbishop Rowan Williams and the recent C of E report Mission-shaped Church are both quoting Vincent Donovan's Christianity Rediscovered.   CCL's successful eLearning event Mission: Tradition confronts the Future is based on this book.  To find out more, follow this link.

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