I sat in a worship service on New Years day and the worship team sang a song that repeated this claim, "Jesus never fails". I thought to myself, "That's a nice sentiment, but is it actually true?"
The reason I'm thinking about this is because there is a whole generation of young people raised in the church who are challenging the intellectual honesty of Christians in a way we never did. They are listening to Christians singing and saying things like "God always answers prayer," and "All things work together for the good for those who love God." Many are asking themselves, "Is that really true?" "Always?" "Is that a promise, or a general principle?" And then wondering, "What else am I being told, heard sung, or taught that isn't always true but we say it just because we wish it was?"
So back to the statement Jesus never fails. It is absolutely true that we can always depend on Jesus to deliver on any promise he's made. But what about those promises he's never actually made to you or anyone? Has he promised to heal your cancer, save your marriage, or job, or business? Has Jesus promised you all your children would love God, stop their immoral behavior, or marry Christians? Those words, "Jesus never fails," strongly implies that all we need to do is to tell Jesus what we need and he'll always deliver. "No, no, no", you say, "That's not what that lyric means." It means Jesus love never fails."
Of course I believe that is true. But to the average spiritually immature person that phrase sounds like a blank check promise that Jesus can be depended on always. And when they see good people who are serious about loving God suffer it appears to them as if Jesus failed them.
I once wrote this blog entitled "The Things We Should Never Trust Jesus For". It's about a talk I once gave to a group of high school students.
You may have an adult child or grandchild struggling with their faith, who might appreciate an intellectually honest conversation about this and other things they've heard Christians say that troubled them. They'll probably never bring it up to you because they don't want to disappoint you. So text them this question. "I'd love to have lunch, or a cup of coffee and discuss any questions you have about the Bible, faith and what it means to follow Jesus. And if you don't have questions I'd still like to get together." Don't run from these conversations. Lean into them. They will respect you more if you're the one to bring it up and if you don't know the answer, tell them you'll get back to them and study scripture for it. We want them to believe in and love the Jesus of the Gospels and not some Christian Urban Legends about him.
I've actually done this with our grandchildren from middle school on up dozens of times. We call it Papa School. I've texted several grandchildren about the same age and offered to meet in a group, over a meal where they can ask, or discuss any topic. Or I will raise two or three questions, or topics I think they, or their friends may be wrestling with for us to discuss. Often those questions lead to other questions they have. My experience is that until someone has a satisfying answer they will rarely have fire in their belly for God. Not all our grandchildren are flat out in love with God. But it is not due to ignorance about who God is, what he has done for them and what he expects of them.
Here are some Bible verses about trusting God you can take to the bank!
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;" - Proverbs 3:5
"Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." - Psalms 9:10
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8