Paper Pt XXI: Do We Really Want Success?


The Cross is the God-sanctioned corrective to self-seeking humanity. It is the message of salvation, and the method of salvation. Jesus, fully God and fully human, was crucified to end the power of rebellion. As people joined to Him through the Cross and shaped by that same Cross, we must craft our praxis from a fully ‘Cruciform’ theology. It is not overly critical to say that we are too often missing the point. We, for all our attempts at orthodoxy, often fail at orthopraxy.

It is obvious that our failure at this point will not hamper God’s ability to move forward His Kingdom agenda. In the long run it may not matter much to God, it will, however, matter to us. In missing the point of God’s Kingdom project we will simply write ourselves out of redemptive history. Other movements have done so, will ours?

It is unlikely that the Vineyard movement will soon succumb to anything like what has stricken many of the mainline denominations. Perhaps, considering our spiritual DNA, we may never end up in the dry dustbin of bureaucratic structure and stale institutionalization with its incipient credentialism. There are, however, other ways of missing the point; crass commercialism and rampant individualism contradict the Cross as surely as calcified institutionalism. Ego-driven success is surely a sin as great as milquetoast mediocrity.

We must do away with standards of success that do not align with scripture, that are flatly contradicted by the life and ministry of the apostles, and stand in contradiction to the power of the Cross. Perhaps we should do away with the language of ‘success’ altogether. Mother Teresa was asked (in light of the continuing problem of global poverty and in spite of her heroic life-long efforts) if she ever got discouraged. She responded, “No. God doesn’t call me to be successful, God calls me to be faithful.”50 Scripture says the same thing, only in different words.

16"In that day," declares the LORD, you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' 
17I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.
Hosea 2:16-17

It is our drive towards ‘success’ that has brought the Baals of individualism and consumerism into the Church. My prayer is that this paper would encourage the Church to cease striving to be a successful servant, and seek instead to become a faithful Bride.


Devoted said...

I am jumping up and down and reading more and more. May God use you in a mighty, mighty way!

Steve S. said...

Thank you for your encouragement and prayer!