Billionaire media mogul Ted Turner once declared that “Christianity is for losers”. Ted Turner is seen as a maverick and one of the most successful entrepreneurs. But his statement caused quite a stir—it hit the headlines, and he was heavily criticised at the time, and eventually he was persuaded to retract his sentence.
I guess in the school playground there’s nothing more insulting than to be called a loser. No-one likes to be a loser. For not only do we not want to be losers, we don’t want to associate with them either. We pointedly shun losers, as if some of their ‘loser-ness’ might rub off on us. Or rather, more honestly, we shun them because others might recognise us as among their number.
We admire people who are successful: people who are popular, people who win contests, people who are famous, people who achieve positions of prominence and power, and especially people who make a lot of money. Why did so many people watch the television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? How many would watch a program called Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown? We want winners around us, and we shield ourselves—always politely, of course!—from losers.
In Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath points out that “one of the most familiar criticisms of Christianity is that it offers consolation to life’s losers.” Religious believers are often caricatured as being somewhat weak and naïve—the kind of people who need their faith as a ‘crutch’ just to get them through life. That they are too weak to stand on their own feet. But do you know that Ted Turner was actually right? Christianity is for losers.
When We Feel Like Losers
Of course we don’t like to admit that. That’s why many American preachers preach a gospel of success. Success is all about accomplishment. What I can do; my achievements; getting all that I desire; having it my way. But that’s not what the New Testament teaches. Christianity is not all about success—the problem is, we are not always successful. We feel like losers a great portion of the time because we are, especially morally and spiritually. The Bible calls it sin. You and I were born into sin.
We are sinful people, and we fall short of what God wants for us. That’s not a good definition of success. In the New Testament, Jesus says that those who become angry with another commit sin. So we try to keep our patience with other people. We try to hold our tongue. But it seems like there are some people who push us to the limits and we explode in a rage and before we know it, we have said such awful words and even physically hurt that other person. We are losers.
There is a story about a man who finally got up enough courage to ask his boss for a raise. He told his wife that morning to pray for him. He put it off all day, until late in the afternoon when he screwed up his courage and went into his boss’s office and asked for a raise. To his amazement, his employer agreed to his request.
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The man arrived home to a beautiful table set with the family’s best dishes. Candles were lit. His wife had prepared a festive meal. Immediately, he figured that someone from the office had tipped her off. Finding his wife in the kitchen, he told her the good news. They embraced and kissed, then sat down to a wonderful meal. Next to his plate there was a card with a note inside that read: Congratulations, darling! I knew you’d get the raise. These things will tell you how much I love you.
While on his way to the kitchen to get dessert, the husband noticed that a second card had fallen from his wife’s pocket. Picking it up off the floor, he opened it and read it: Don’t worry about not getting the raise, darling. You deserve it anyway. These things will tell you how much I love you. Whether he succeeded or failed, won or lost made no difference in the end to his wife. She loved him either way. She prepared a special meal for him even if he came home a loser.
God Gave Us His Best
Perhaps today you are feeling empty, needy, lost, like a failure. Perhaps the world has kicked you around and taken away some of your success. Perhaps you have managed to fail morally and spiritually all on your own. But Jesus died on the cross for all losers, regardless of what they have done. When you give your life to Jesus, you will eventually win.
Our success is not found in ourselves—our success is found in the One who is with us in good and in bad times, Jesus Christ. Let’s be reminded of how much he loves us—and that love alone makes us winners!
Every time I make a bad decision or fail in my life, Jesus is always there to pull me back up, to encourage me for the long journey and to walk beside me all along the way. Before the creation of the world God had a plan: to have his one and only Son come to earth to save us from our sins and an eternity spent without hope. The birth of Jesus Christ is for anyone who is hurting, or looking for another chance; for anyone who is looking for purpose and meaning from their life! Jesus said, “Come to me and I will give you rest.”
Jesus came for losers. People hardly ever give their all for anyone, but for a real winner someone might give up something. God, though, shows his love in one special way: while we were losers, he sent his Son for us. While we were at our worst, God gave us his best.
Jesus went repeatedly to the down-and-out, the leper, the demon-possessed, the sick, and even the dead. The movement of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is toward overwhelmed losers like you and me—radically different than what we expect, and radically better than what we deserve.