Success, Failure and the Kingdom of God

Success, Failure and the Kingdom of God September 21, 2018
Image: Pixabay
The Kingdom of God is for losers. Those who are blind, broken, forgotten, poor, marginalized, weak, sick, sinful and sad are right at home in the Kingdom.
In fact, those who consider themselves to be healthy, self-sufficient, popular, rich, strong, righteous and in control aren’t even able to see the Kingdom of God, much less find the door and enter in. Even if they did, they honestly wouldn’t want to continue living in a place where their riches, popularity, righteousness and pride weren’t celebrated.

Jesus was quite clear that only the sick were in need of Him. (see Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32) Only the sinners were capable of being welcomed into His healing embrace. Those who can see have no need of being healed from blindness, do they? Those who already have a great life cannot receive the eternal life that Jesus provides, unless they’re willing to let go of their life and follow Him.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Jesus) – Luke 14:33

This is exactly why Jesus warns us that the rich cannot enter the Kingdom of God. He says it’s impossible, really. (see Matt 19:24) A rich man already has all that he needs so he doesn’t realize that what Jesus offers might actually be worth trading his riches for. The more we have to lose the less likely it is that we will succeed at losing it for the Kingdom.

In the Kingdom of God everything is upside down from the reality we’re used to. The first are now the last. The humble are exalted and the proud are laid low. The greatest is the servant. Only those people who lose their lives find true life in Christ, and even then they must still die daily.

It’s the surrender of life that trips most people up, frankly. Especially those of us who have been raised to believe that we have certain rights to freedom and happiness and wealth and fame.

The American Dream is an alternate path, not a parallel one. You cannot serve both God and money, Jesus said. If you love one, you will hate the other.

Success in this life can prevent us from fully embracing the Good News of the Kingdom that Jesus proclaims. In fact, success in the Kingdom looks like total failure to the world we live in: Giving away your possessions; Sharing with people who can’t pay you back; Forgiving people who don’t deserve it; Loving people who can only hurt you – all of these things seem like failure to those who are not of the Kingdom. It makes no sense to them. “Why would we fail on purpose?”, “Why would we lay down our lives for the scum of the Earth?”

Without eyes to see the Kingdom there’s no point in trying to explain it really. But we must still fail in the eyes of the world if we hope to succeed in the Kingdom of God. To put it another way, “We fail to succeed at failure when we succeed at failing to fail.”

Jesus is for losers. The Kingdom of God is for those who mourn. The Good News is that everyone can enter the Kingdom right now. But the price of admission is a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and a willingness to surrender everything in order to receive the treasure of the Kingdom.


Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit 11 years ago to start a church that gives away 100% of the offering to the poor in their community. 

His new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

"All forms of bigotry, that is judging attributes no single person chooses, (people used to ..."

Why Is Jesus A Minor Character ..."
"All of infinity is Father's church. A house (space); with many rooms (solar systems). John ..."

Why Is Jesus A Minor Character ..."
"Nobody, who trusts The Father and His Son are afraid of death."

Why Is Jesus A Minor Character ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herm

    Thank you Keith for helping to make more clear:

    The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV2011)

    As I shared with one today, who chooses to judge others as he would not have others judge him. I was once a sinner, according to the law of Moses, but now am set free from sin; washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and, most importantly by the Spirit of truth living with and in me forever having written the sum of the law and prophets, and all that the law and prophets hang on, in my heart and my mind, which is spirit, not carnal.

    The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    1 Corinthians 6:7-11 (NIV2011)

    I was one who would not have inherited the kingdom of God, as a child of God to live eternal fully in accordance with what is written in Luke 10:27. I have been set free and commissioned to teach others to be students of my family elders, as am I now.

    It is my job, as my Father’s child, to teach others to be students of my one Father, my one Instructor (the Messiah) and my one Teacher. It is not my job to judge, wash, sanctify, and/or justify any other; no matter whether a friend, an enemy, a merciful neighbor, or especially an other unknown to me. The Spirit of God does so fully for me today and can do so for any other who honestly, and humbly, seeks, knocks and asks directly of my Father, my Messiah, and my Holy Spirit.

    “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

    “ ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’”

    Acts 13:38-41 (NIV2011)

    Within the law written in my heart and mind bound in all love, which is spirit in the image of God, is, also, written what we call the Beatitudes which speaks to God’s love for many today we would call failures. Thank you for reminding us that we all succeed only through failure and get stronger only through struggle.

    God blesses us all! They are the greatest among us who all our lives depend on to serve us; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. amen

  • Amen Kieth; as success is our nat’l idol and you might like this song (too),
    Steve Taylor’s – Jesus is for Losers, from his Squint album:

    You rock, my brother! 🙂