In the lexicon of the English language, failure may no longer be an option.
Instead, we English-speakers bring you fail. Not as to fail, but simply fail. (If you aren’t tracking with this, Slate has a fine article explaining this latest twist in the mother tongue.)
Of course, being the the lovers of the extreme that we Americans are, fail is itself a fail unless we can find a way to magnify it. This becomes epic fail. And because all extreme language needs its counter, we have coined the term epic win.
The landing of US Airways Flight 1549 is an epic win.
An epic fail? Think Jan. 22, 1973.
Yes, Roe v. Wade was an epic fail for Christians in this country.
Asleep at the wheel. Knocked out. Comatose. Guard dropped. You name it, the Church of the early 1970s didn’t react to what was happening under its nose. Didn’t stick to the game plan. Didn’t get it. So we got Roe v. Wade and millions upon millions of barbarically destroyed human lives. An entire generation of people culled. Epic, epic fail.
You witness a lot of handwringing over Roe today. What wasn’t big news leading up to that day in January 1973 is now. With a new president who believes Roe was an epic win, Christians are even more alarmed about the course of our country and its attitudes toward abortion. Many frantic calls will emanate from pulpits and burn up the Christian radio and TV airwaves. We will hear a million outlines for courses of action which we have all been hearing for decades.You can almost recite them by heart.
In the language of fail, let’s look at those familiar calls to action:
Voting Republican – FAIL
The Republican Party has done next to nothing to end abortion even though the rhetoric of the party reeks of pro-life talk. But talk is cheap. As long as Christians keep devoting their time and energy to this do-nothing party of talk, we will not end abortion.
Supporting Pro-life Candidates – FAIL
See above. Candidates are often very vocal about their pro-life sentiments. Funny how we hear about this incessantly come election time, then all goes quiet immediately afterwards.
Demonstrating/Protesting – FAIL
I demonstrated with Operation Rescue. I was on the frontlines of protesting at abortion clinics. Yes, there were small victories when a child was saved once in a while. But the scale gained is not the scale that will save this country from judgment.
Educating – FAIL
We can show pregnant women pictures of aborted fetuses. We can fire up the 3D sonograms. We can talk and talk and talk about the horrors of abortion. Yet 36 years of pro-life education has given us one thing: the surety of more than a million babies aborted in 2009.
Praying – FAIL
Prayer a fail? How is that possible? How can God not honor our prayer to see abortion end?
Prayer fails under one critical condition. If I am outside on a bitterly cold day and I encounter a destitute man rubbing his chilled hands together while mine remain snug and warm inside my gloves, do I need to pray about what my course of action should be? Haven’t the Scriptures informed my direction? Isn’t the Spirit in me telling me what to do? What is the point of me praying, “God, I really need to know what to do about this man and his cold hands. If it be thy will, let him come over to me and strike up a conversation. Then I will know that I need to do something”? Do I need to pray this? No, I don’t. I need to do what the Spirit and the Word, both of which I claim to know, have already told me to do.
When we use prayer as a means to look spiritual while failing to do what God wills of us, prayer is a fail. Disobedience does not move the heart of God toward us. What should we expect from God when we know what to do but do not do it?
And there is one enormous thing we are refusing to do even though we know we must do it.
This brings us to the most epic fail of them all. It’s an epic fail larger than Roe v. Wade. A million Roe v. Wades combined could not be as epic as this fail. And it is this epic fail that explains entirely the epic fail of the American Church when it comes to abortion.
Making disciples – EPIC FAIL
In the early 1960s, the Church in America abandoned its primary mission to make disciples in the name of Jesus. We got sidetracked into culture wars, fighting the commies, worrying about hippies, looking at every threat in the world while ignoring the fact that lost people were remaining lost because we forgot what we were supposed to be about. I believe that’s the main reason why abortion became the law of the land.
If we have tried every other means to stop abortion in America and nothing has worked, the simple reason comes down to this: When a nation is filled with people who have not been born again, that nation will not honor righteousness.
That is the American Church’s epic fail. We simply stopped making disciples.
Want an epic win and an end to Roe? Make disciples. If every Christian in this country committed to actively sharing Christ with a half dozen lost people this year, just one every two months, I think we would begin to see change. If we stopped toying around with discipleship and got serious about raising up the next God-fearing generation within our very own churches, we would see change. We would know that epic win that we have craved for 36 years if we dropped all the other skubalon that has distracted us and focused on our primary mission of making disciples.
Because a nation of people filled with the Spirit would have no need for abortion and would abolish it in a heartbeat.
12 thoughts on “Epic Fail, Epic Win”
To make disciples, the Church need to become true disciples themselves.
Sometimes I see the church doing outreach and I think of that scripture in Matthew 23 where Jesus tells the Pharisees that they go out, make a convert and then make them twice the sons of hell that they are.
Outside of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no hope for mankind. In the end, without Him, it is all Epic Fail.
My instant reaction to the fail of stopping abortion was how to dry up the demand, and solution was given.
Abortion on demand quietly started, not surprisingly, after the sexual revolution. In years after our side was so sure court decisions changed the tide in favor of abortion that we tried the same strategy for overturning roe v. wade. While discussing politics, though, my wife noted no fewer abortions took place under Ronald Reagan.
We were right to try all aforementioned fails. But it was society that failed by rushing headfirst into moral bankruptcy. And not even Christians are united against abortion.
Many of those who get abortions are nonchalant and you will have them in your family; to them it’s just birth control. But being a voice will make a big difference and the situation will present itself.
I scratch my head when I see all these end-runs that we American Christians do around the obvious. I think we take those shortcuts because we’re terrified of the real work. Because the real work may force us to live differently, and we’re too comfortable with our suburban existences to make the necessary changes that the real work demands.
This leads to a perpetual fail on our part.
I’ve noticed recently, maybe as my walk with God has become more deliberate, that Christians demand righteous behavior from the unrighteous. Like the pharisees who placed impossible weights on the backs of the people then refused to help them carry the burden, Christians tell sinners not to sin, but don’t offer salvation.
Rather than loving the sinner, as Jesus did, we point to their sin and call them sinner and outcast. When they reject us in anger and frustration, we say we are being persecuted “for righteousness sake.”
Being self-absorbed, we don’t see the magnitude of our error. We are, literally, the blind leading the blind. The deaf preaching to the deaf.
Christians need to stop preaching, and start living the gospel.
I am personally sick of us demanding moral perfection from people who are—down to the atomic level—tainted by sin and utterly incapable of performing the very thing we ask of them. It’s like asking a dead dog to fetch.
You’re right; we don’t lead with love but with condemnation and judgment. I know so many Christians who are obsessed with “the homosexual agenda,” yet they can’t even say they know one homosexual. If they don’t even know one, how can they be a light in that one person’s life? What kind of hypocrisy is that to rail and rail and rail yet without any practical connection to the people railed against? That’s a non sequitur, frankly.
And what’s our beef anyway? That sinful people act like sinners? Wow! How shocking! The cat keeps depositing dead mice in the foyer! If only it didn’t act like a cat!
Dan, the last line of your post is the most telling: “Because a nation of people filled with the Spirit would have no need for abortion and would abolish it in a heartbeat.”
And a nation of people filled with the Spirit would do a lot of things differently too. The idea of praying a prayer then getting wet then going to a Sunday School class is all it takes for the reign of God to be in us has gotten the American church into this mess in the first place.
Your post also alluded to the fruit of righteousness that is missing in many so called Christian lives. The proof is in the pudding.
Thanks for keeping this before us. It’s important.
Wonderful post, Dan. Thank you. Out here, trying to reach the lost among sailing folk who curse with every other word and yet weep at Obama’s speech, who care about feeding and watering the feral cat population at the marina and yet tell a hungry woman to go away, one must tread gingerly, gaining trust before mentioning God’s name. Hoping that folk we meet will become curious enough to ask. We find it amazing that so many do. Not as many as we’d like to see. But as you say, if God brings us the promised one in every port, then that’s one more into the Kingdom and one more less likely to choose death over life.
And speaking of feeding the hungry, how easy we’ve found it to ask the taco lady to give something to the beggar woman staring longingly at the open-air grill and to put it on our bill. How could we not? What did it cost us? Next to nothing. This is how we handled the beggars we met in DC; we ushered them into the nearby McDonald’s, Burger King, or sandwich shop so they could order whatever they wanted. This may do nothing more than fill a belly once, but here in Mexico it garnered a warm smile from the taco lady. Her outdoor restaurant is next to the Vineyard church, We’ll eat there again next week between the English and Spanish services. I bet she’ll remember us. And then maybe, just maybe we’ll have a chance to invite her to the Spanish services. And next week we’ll be taking someone from the marina with us. Maybe his life will be changed as well. If not that day, then maybe after we’ve shared more pizza nights with him or spent more days chatting about boats and loaning out tools. That’s my husband’s job–insinuating himself in the life of the men who need help. Just being there and listening.
So many of us are afraid of evangelism because we remember those classes we went to that told us how to do it. And we thought, O Lord, I can’t go door to door or stand on a street corner or walk up to some stranger and pass out those Four Spiritual Law booklets. Now that I’m much older,I’m also a tad wiser. I’ll never be one to hold evangelistic meetings, which obviously work for those called to that role. But I can love up on people. I can care about their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I can listen. My husband can fix things for them and make friends with the atheist in the next slip. We can let the curses be swallowed in a silent, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do/say”. I didn’t grow up Christian, so perhaps it’s easier for me to relate to the fears and frustrations of the worldly folk we meet–many of whom are like my extended family. I was there. And you couldn’t have hooked me with words or literature or anything other than love and a listening ear.
Just a note about standing in the midst of folk who curse God, Perhaps it will help those whose spirits feel battered and yet must be around these lost ones. My step father, Peter, did cursed God at almost every meal we shared in the months after I met Jesus. It hurt. I cringed. Then I prayed about it and for him. One day we were all together at a gathering and I was the lone Christian. He started in with a long tale and many ugly words. He was a judge and a brilliant man with a huge vocabulary, but the enemy was trying to use him to get to me..Suddenly, I was looking into the face of Jesus smiling at me (no, it wasn’t the Sunday-school photo. I only remember the loving expression). As I gazed into this wonderful face, I grinned. From then on, whenever Peter would start in on the cursing, I’d remember the vision. My smiles eventually brought peace in our midst and Peter stopped trying to provoke me. I think of this now, years later, when I’m faced with the same thing. Focusing on Jesus instead of the ugly words, I’m able to smile. I’ve been using this with one fellow here who can’t speak without taking the Name of the Lord in vain. One day we were talking about helping out the Mexicans. He has a yacht sales business and works to do good things in town. Thinking how his giving must please the Lord, I said as much. Though he pooh-poohed my suggestion,saying he did it for himself, I think our acceptance of him and my finding something nice to say about him may have opened a door. Now he smiles and waves at us. And maybe someday his vocabulary will change because he will have a changed heart.
I didn’t mean to make this such a long comment. But I so agree with your words, Dan, and thank you for keeping us pointed in the right direction.
Thanks for sharing that, Normandie.
I was thinking about this very subject this morning, and came to the very same conclusion you did. Great post!
And normandie, you got it. Great post.
That is the American Church’s epic fail. We simply stopped making disciples.
That “fail” started generations ago. Now that most of us have never been discipled ourselves, we’re too immature to go out and make disciples! I attended an evangelical college, have participated in various Bible studies over the years, belong to a church that takes the Bible very seriously, and hardly have met anyone who knows how to walk in the Spirit. My pastor was called by God to teach (he did the Jonah thing for many years, but God won in the end) but nobody else at my church knows what their Gift is, so there is nobody with discernment to help the rest of us figure it out — we’re all in the same boat. We want to reach out to the community, but with such little success because it is basically just well-intentioned human effort. I can’t point to a single time in my life when I have been able to accomplish something beyond my own abilities through God’s strength. I am sure there are multitudes of opportunities to make disciples that have passed right by because I never hear the Spirit’s promptings.
If more American Christians are like me than like you Dan, maybe there is a lack of people able to follow the command to make disciples, rather than a lack of people who desire to make disciples?