01 02 03 Nuwamanya Mategyero: Moral Failures Are all That There are 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Moral Failures Are all That There are

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“This whole place is filled with losers because your Pastor is a loser!” Tullian Tchividjian, former Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church once said in a sermon. Tullain never
delivered a sermon without emphasizing the fact that “we are sinners, in a sinful world, with other sinful people”, and then he went on to deliver the bullet, “God saves sinners because sinners are all that there are!”

I was greatly disturbed by the events of his resignation as Pastor of Coral Ridge two weeks ago and greatly so by the subsequent events following his resignation. Because I was 22 years old, fresh from finishing my last semester papers at Makerere University when one evening, while flipping through channels, I landed on TBN. There was this tattooed guy, who apparently is Billy Graham’s grandson. Two things I noticed about Tullian were first, he looked nothing like a Pastor but more like a gym instructor! I mean pastors don’t dress like Tullian does, I thought. The other thing was his message. Boy, oh boy! This was my first encounter with God’s radical grace.

Tullian said it with genuineness, finesse, accuracy and in a language I understood. He always made the gospel so real and liberating. I had myself been preaching since the age of 19 majorly to a congregation of about 300 but had never encountered the radicality of God’s amazing grace until the Lord placed Tullian in my path.

“If God unconditionally loves this guy”, I thought, “then He loves me too.” Coming from Africa where superstition has no boundaries, I grew up being told that tattoos are evil. And that if you got one, it was the quickest route to hell. But there was something about this grace of God that it smashed all that conditionality and kept on shouting “You are loved, not because of what you do or not do, but because of what My son Jesus has done for you.”

It is three years now and am still learning about this AMAZING GRACE. I get blown away every morning because my standing with God is not dependent on me. That is huge; I can never take it in but distribute it to other train wrecks like me.

Train Wrecks are all that there are

It is in the book of Genesis that God tells what we really are. Moses writes, “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth (Gen. 5:3).” All through Sunday school we were told the beautiful story of how we were created in the image of God and not how we had inherited the likeness or image of Adam. We have to go to Genesis 6 to find out what Adam’s image (which we all took on) was like. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (v. 6).” So our wickedness is not just great, but every one of the imagination of our thoughts is also evil…not just evil but continually evil. This is who we are. 

Tullian never misses to say it. That we are all broken, him inclusive. Genesis 6:6 is testimony our messed-upness. This includes everyone from the pastor to that guy who has just convicted of masterminding a genocide. All of us. The glorious truth is that, as Tullian always put it: “The grace of God flows through the cracks of our imperfection.” It’s those people who know that they are sinners that understand this stuff. And we learn God’s grace the most from moral failures who have accepted that they are indeed failures and have abandoned the huge bag of self-righteousness at the foot of the cross.

So God used failures like Peter so that Paul could experience and understand grace. Paul was used by God so that Timothy and early Church could experience grace. God used failures like Martin Luther so that failures like Robert Capon could experience this amazing grace. God used failures like Capon so that failures like Tullian Tchividjian could experience God’s grace. God uses failures like Tullian so that you and I could experience God’s grace. And so God continues to use failures like Tullian, you and me so that the world could experience God’s radical and amazing grace.
If this is true, that we are all failures, then that makes us a huge bunch of failures showing other failures where we found the spring of living water. 

Admit and be Acquitted

We can never be forgiven if all we do is hiding behind our supposed ‘goodness.’ This was Jesus’ point in the Parable of the Wedding banquet (Matt. 22:1-14). That one guy who thought “Ah…am pretty good in my own robe, guess I don’t need yours” was thrown out. This man’s robe of righteousness was not good (Isaiah 64:6); he needed Jesus’ robe of righteousness like the other guys at the party so that he would enjoy the presence of the King (Jesus). 

We need to renounce our goodness and admit that we are failures in ourselves who can only be saved by God’s amazing grace. And if we are all sinners, then there is only one who is sinless—Jesus. It’s Him alone that can acquit us.
This has always been Tullian’s message—exposing the sinners that we all are—and then exposing the Savior that God is. 

Then Liberate.org was shut down, the Liberate Conference cancelled because of one moral failure. What the bible teaches us is that there has been only one moral success—Jesus—the rest of us from Adam to that child being born at this moment is born a moral failure because of what happened in Genesis 3. If we therefore went on pulling down stuff written, or said by moral failures, am afraid we would have nothing left on the internet and in bookstores around the world.

The law just exposes us. Under the law all of us crash and burn, because the law is no respecter of persons. If the best like David crashed, what about us? Jesus in the sermon of the mount just shows how the law, as a way to earn God’s love, can never be trusted. The one who says “You fool!” is guilty of murder (Matt. 5:22) and the one who looks at a person of the opposite sex lustfully is guilty of adultery (Matt. 5:28). Now who is not a moral failure?

The difference is that Tullian admitted to failing as he has always done. That is why God will use his rather terrible experience to teach many about grace and the free forgiveness of sins. That is why we need Tullian’s books, blog posts, podcasts, and videos more than ever before. Because this guy has renounced his robe of righteousness for Jesus’ blemish-free robe of righteousness. 

This applies to all of us: that in our failing, our hope is not in covering up our failures but rather having them exposed to the One True Savior who is not ashamed to die naked on the cross so that we can forever be united with the Father who so much loves us. Because of this: “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans. 8:1).” We are free to fail; we do all fail all the time after all.

Image: Tullian Tchividjian/Twitter.com

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