Defining Christian Success

It seems to me as though the concept of success is becoming more and more prominent in our modern day lives. From gaining a certain amount of likes on Instagram to graduating college, we are living in a culture that is obsessed with succeeding, whatever that looks like. But what does success look like as a Christian?

Before going on to discuss the idea of success (and failure), I want to reiterate what it means to be a follower of Christ. Colossians 3:3 reads:

‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.’

As a follower of Jesus, you have died to your old self and your life is now wrapped up in Jesus. He came to you in your sin, your rebellion, your mess, and He provided a way out. And now, you are eternally safe in His arms.

I think there are two main questions to ask when discussing the idea of success and failure as a Christian:

1) What is the ultimate ‘success’?
2) Is there such a thing as ‘success’ and ‘failure’ if the ultimate ‘success’ has been achieved?

In my opinion, the ultimate success has been won by Jesus. Every human being on earth dreams of living forever. We hate the idea of death, and for many of us, it simply terrifies us. Jesus went through one of the most horrific kinds of death: crucifixion. This is awful for a mere human being, let alone the ‘God-Man’ - the person who had the entirety of God within him. Jesus was in an inseparable relationship with the God of the universe - so much so that he frequently referred to being one with the Father (see John 10:30).

Jesus and the Father (and the Holy Spirit) are one and the same; a beautiful triune dance of eternity. And yet Jesus went through crucifixion, and the Father turned his face away. Jesus literally walked through Hell, all to win your heart, all because His love for you is utterly relentless. He went through a horrendous death because He thought you were worth it and wanted to take the weight of your sin upon His own shoulders.

…but the story doesn’t end there. Not only did Jesus walk through Hell, but he came out the other side, along with the keys to its entrance. Revelation 1:18 reads:

‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’

Not only did Jesus die for you, but he won life for you. Death WAS humanity’s biggest enemy. But now it has been defeated, through Jesus Christ. Isn’t this the ultimate success? And if the ultimate success has been accomplished, does any kind of success on earth even compare? Shouldn’t we be spending our time and energy on praising and thanking Jesus for winning the ultimate success for us instead of wasting it searching for something that will never even come close?

Moving on to question number two:

2) Is there such a thing as ‘success’ and ‘failure’ if the ultimate ‘success’ has been achieved?

As I said before if the ultimate success (that is, defeating death once and for all) has been achieved for us through Jesus, is there such a thing as ‘success’ and ‘failure’ anymore? Surely all earthly successes are outshone by the success of Jesus, and all failures are forced into insignificance when one looks at the success of Jesus?

What’s more, as Colossians 3:3 reads, our lives are now ‘hidden in Christ’. This means that all of our sin, guilt, and shame have been accounted for by him - in other words, our failure is wrapped up in him. Not only that, but our success is completely wrapped up in him too because we know that ‘every good and perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17) - in other words, all of our successes were never really our successes. Anything good in us is due to God’s infallible goodness. We simply cannot take the credit because everything good in the world was created by God. To put it simply, all of our failures are wrapped up in Jesus and taken care of, and all of our successes are wrapped up in Jesus because they have ultimately come from him. He is the source of all goodness, and he is the one who takes away all things bad.

I don’t actually think that there is such a thing as failure in the Kingdom of God. Why? Because ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28). So if we fail at something in life, God has promised that he will work it for our good. God takes mistakes and turns them into messages. Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom of Heaven because everything is worked out for our good. Therefore, we shouldn’t view failures as failures, but rather view them as an opportunity for God’s strength and grace to shine through. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take mistakes lightly, but whether we have slipped up or tried to succeed and failed, Jesus promises to turn it all out for our good.

Christians don’t need to worry about worldly success for three main reasons:

1) Jesus has won the ultimate success for us.
2) Our value and worth are found in him, and so we no longer need to search for these in worldly ‘successes’
3) God will work everything for your good, no matter what happens or how you perform.

Can we be bold enough to say that life is only ever a success with Jesus?

Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.