We have made it to the final week of our series called #ParentingFail. It’s been a lot of fun as we’ve talked about the dirty little secret that all parents share: we fail. A lot.
And you don’t even have to be a parent to relate to that. We all fall short and fail way more often than we’d ever want to admit.
But that doesn’t mean that we have no hope. There is incredible hope that’s available, and that’s what we’re going to talk about as we wrap up this series today.
As I was working on this last message, I got on Facebook and Twitter and just searched for posts and tweets that used #ParentingFail. And I ended up scrolling for a while, because there was a ton of posts. Some that were kind of sad. But a lot that were really funny, just because they were so honest.
Here are a few of them that I found. One mom wrote, “Realizing you’ve left your phone next to your sleeping baby and it’s now ringing…. Loudly!!! Attempt upstairs dash only to trip and face plant on the stairs. Massive thud, missed phone call, baby is crying. #ParentingFail”
Some of you are thinking, “That’s pretty much what happened to me yesterday.”
Another mom wrote, “A certain 6 ½ year old scored a major victory in the Parent-Child Game of Life this evening when his “stomach started hurting” as usual exactly at the moment when his exasperated mother (let’s call her Me) was threatening to take dessert away if vegetables were not first consumed.
He continued to complain, therefore Said Mother told him to “go ahead and puke on the table if his stomach was really hurting,” to which the Boy replied by doing exactly that. Game, Set, Match.” #parentingfail
Here’s what another parent wrote. “When you’re explaining to your son why what he did was wrong and you get the giggles because it was inventive.” #ParentingFail
How many of you have experienced this? Yep. You want to be mad, but you’re secretly kind of proud because your kid is so creative.
And this mom might be the winner. She wrote, “You know you’re raising outdoorsy boys when your 2-year-old relieves himself on a shrub in the garden center of Home Depot.” #ParentingFail
Some of you might have one that could top that. If so, catch me after the service because I really want to hear that story!
The point is that #ParentingFails aren’t unique to you. You may feel like the only parent who fails, but you’re not. And as we’re going to see today, there’s actually a whole lot of hope available when we understand that.
So let me pray for us and we’ll dive into the last message in this series.
Like I said, we’re chasing after some hope as we wrap up this series. Hope for parents. Hope for everyone. And that hope is found in these two words:
If you want to have hope, you’ve got to kick this idea of perfection to the curb. Perfectionism will make you miserable. Seriously. Because you can never do it. You can never achieve it. You’ll never get there. It’s a weight you can’t carry. Instead, it will become a burden that crushes you. So instead of being crushed by perfectionism, it’s time for a big, healthy dose of perfection rejection.
And to fuel that perfection rejection, listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 11. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
This is so incredibly rich. We’re going to spend our entire time today unpacking what Jesus said here. There is incredible beauty here. There is grace here. And there is hope here. Hope that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
So let’s dig into this. It all starts by looking at who Jesus is talking to. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.”
That’s who He invited to come to Him. The weary and the burdened. The tired and the heavy-laden. The worn-out and the broken. That’s who Jesus invited to come to Him.
You know what that means? That means that perfect people aren’t invited to the party!
If you’re already perfect, you’re not invited. Jesus essentially says, “No perfect people allowed.” And that means, “No perfect parents allowed,” either.
I love what Daniel Emery Price wrote on Twitter this week. “Woe to the strong and victorious. The sympathy of God is reserved for the weak.”
The biggest reason to embrace perfection rejection is that it is exactly what Jesus does. He rejects the idea that only perfect people can have hope. Perfect people simply aren’t allowed.
Now, there are people who kick against that. And they can even cherry pick some Scriptures to back up their point. But when you look at Scripture as a whole, their argument falls apart.
Here’s one of the Scriptures they pick out. In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NIV)
Man. That one’s tough. We’re talking about perfection rejection, but Jesus Himself said to “be perfect.” How do you reconcile that?
It really is tough, isn’t it? I mean, how does that make you feel? If this is all you had to go on, how would you feel? If you’re honest, you’d feel pretty lousy. If this is all we had, we’d be up a creek.
But that’s not all we have. God’s demand is, “Be perfect.” But God’s diagnosis is no one is perfect.
That’s why Paul wrote this in Romans 3. “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12, NIV)
Jesus said to be perfect. But Paul reminds us that none of us can possibly measure up to that. “There is no one righteous, not even one.” “There is no one who does good, not even one.”
So what do we do with that? God’s demand is be perfect. God’s diagnosis is no one is perfect. What do we do? We seek God’s deliverance.
And God’s deliverance is this: Jesus is our perfection.
That’s what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2. “He [meaning Jesus] committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22-25, NIV)
Jesus committed no sin. He was perfect, which allowed Him to take our sins onto Himself when He died on the cross. His perfect life enabled Him to become our perfect sacrifice.
And that’s why we can embrace perfection rejection. We embrace it because, instead of cherry picking single verses, we see the whole gospel message.
And that message tells us that God’s demand is to be perfect.
God’s diagnosis is that no one is perfect.
God’s deliverance is that Jesus is our perfection.
Do you feel the freedom here? There is no freedom in do more. There is no freedom in try harder. There is no freedom in be better. That’s all rooted in striving for perfection. And if you’re striving for perfection, you’re running for a finish line that doesn’t exist. It will leave you exhausted and exasperated.
But that’s where Jesus comes in. Remember what He said? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.”
The very first step in coming to Christ is to be weary and burdened. To admit that you’re not perfect, and chasing after perfection has worn you out. It’s a burden you can’t carry.
If you’re exhausted and exasperated…if you’re feeling worn down and beaten up…if you’ve tried to be a winner but you always still feel like a loser…guess what? You’re exactly the person that Jesus has invited to come to Him. Perfect people aren’t invited to the party. But tired, burdened, weary, broken, sinful, imperfect people are.
And you would think that this would be great news to everybody, but there are countless people who reject it. And Robert Capon tells us exactly why.
He wrote, “Grace doesn’t sell; you can hardly even give it away, because it works only for losers and no one wants to stand in their line.”
Jesus invited the weary and the burdened to come to Him. In other words, people who are exhausted. Who can’t handle life on their own. Who have reached the end of their rope. Who are losers.
And there are a ton of people…including a ton of very religious people…who don’t want to stand in their line. But here’s the problem with that…losers are the only ones invited! Jesus didn’t invite the victorious and the strong to come to Him. He invited the weary and the burdened.
And to be honest, it took me most of my life to learn this truth. It’s a truth I’m still learning.
I grew up in church. I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t in church. Whether it was the little Baptist church that my family attended that literally sat at the end of a windy little country road in the middle of nowhere. Or the church in Georgetown that I call my home church. Or any of the various churches that I’ve served as paid staff. I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t part of the church.
But honestly, it wasn’t until the last 5-10 years that I really came to understand and embrace the whole truth of the gospel. Jesus invites the weary and the burdened to come to Him. That meant that, if I truly wanted to come to Christ, I had to get in that line….the loser line. It meant that if my faith was going to be genuine, I had to admit that I belonged in that line.
And this really went against a lot of what I had been taught, as a follower of Christ and especially as a pastor. I was told that pastors had to be shining examples of victory, not loser examples of defeat. People didn’t want to know about their pastor’s failures. Just his victories. This was drilled into me for years, and I learned the lesson well.
The lesson was, “Just fake it.” I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I also knew I couldn’t let other people know that. So I faked it. I faked it in every conversation I had. I faked it in every sermon I preached. And I did this for years.
And you know what I learned? It is exhausting to be fake. It really is. It’s exhausting to be fake. But it’s freeing to be real. And I actually remember the time when I finally owned up to this in a sermon. I’ll never forget the day. We invited people to come to the back for prayer at the end of the service, and more people responded than we could handle. We had people waiting in lines to receive prayer. And it’s all because I, as their pastor, stood in front of them and said, “You know what? I’m broken.” And that message resonated like I could not believe.
And I learned something that day that I’ve never forgotten. I learned that the gospel’s power isn’t unleashed when we fake it. It’s unleashed when we are authentic. When we own up to this truth.
There’s no need to be fake when you are forgiven.
That’s the beauty of following Jesus. There’s no need to be fake when you are forgiven. Jesus didn’t invite perfect people to come to Him. He invited imperfect people. And so if they’re the only ones that are invited, then that’s the line that we want to be in. That means that we don’t have to play this exhausting game of faking it anymore.
Now, think about this truth when it comes to being a parent. We’ve been talking for the last four weeks about #ParentingFails. And yeah, we’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve laughed at a lot of common failures that we experience as parents.
But what about the fails that aren’t so funny? What about the failure that still haunts you? The regret that you just can’t shake? Would people treat you differently if they knew about that?
Not if they’re in the right line. If they’re in the “weary and burdened” line, then they’ll just welcome you to the club.
And you know what? There are amazing things that happen in that line. Go back to what Jesus said again.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
Look at what Jesus said would happen when we get in the right line. When we come to Him, admitting that we are weary and burdened. What happens?
He gives us rest. In fact, He said that not once, but twice. “I will give you rest.” “You will find rest for your souls.”
With this being Sports Camp week, there are going to be a whole lot of people here at Connect that aren’t going to get a lot of rest. It’s going to be hot out there this week, like it is every year. The kids are going to be busting with energy, like they are every year. And about Wednesday or Thursday this week, a lot of Sports Camp volunteers are going to be questioning their life choices.
Seriously, it is an amazing week. And we’ve got a lot of first time volunteers this year. It’s going to be awesome. I promise.
But it is exhausting. There’s no other way to say it. It’s a crazy, fun, exhausting week. Yeah, by the end of the week, you’ll be tired. But it’s a good tired. You’ll be tired, knowing that you spend an entire week investing in the lives of kids, many of whom don’t have any connection to Jesus whatsoever. That’s a good tired.
But there’s also a tired that’s not a good tired. And that’s the tired that a whole lot of us can find ourselves in. That tired comes from striving for perfection. That tired comes from faking it, from keeping up appearances. That tired comes from religious rules that are dumped on you by some religious legalist who isn’t perfect themselves, although they’d never let you know it. That’s not a good tired.
And then there’s just life in general. We get tired when, every time we seem to get up, life knocks us to the mat again. We get tired of fighting battles that we never seem to win. We get tired of spinning our wheels. We get tired of wondering how we ever ended up here, because life definitely wasn’t supposed to work out this way.
Jesus invites all who are weary and burdened to come to Him, so He can give them rest. It doesn’t mean that all the battles in your life are automatically gone. But it does mean that there is a change in your heart, in the depth of your soul. You can actually rest in the midst of the battle, because you understand that the outcome of the battle is not on you. Are you tracking with us this morning? You can actually rest in the midst of the battle, because you understand that the outcome of the battle is not on you.
And when it comes to parenting, that is a game changer.
I love what J.D. Greear said. He said, “One of the signs that you have grasped what the gospel says about parenting is that you can sleep.”
There is a reason you can rest. It’s because you know that the outcome of the battle isn’t on you. After you’ve done all that you can do, you trust God with what only He can do. And you know what you find there? Peace. Rest.
And make no mistake about it. Your kids are watching, and they’re learning. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That’s the Jesus you see when you read Scripture. Is that the Jesus that your kids see when they read you?
Your anxiety and stress and fretting and worrying are teaching them that the yoke of Jesus is anything but easy. They are learning that He puts burdens on us that are anything but light.
Now, I want to make a distinction because I have to. I’m not talking about people who struggle with anxiety disorders. I’m not talking about legitimate medical problems that need to be treated by a doctor. So please don’t misunderstand me.
I’m talking about the anxiety and the stress and the worry that comes when we simply haven’t entered into the rest that Jesus offers us. When we refuse to give Him control. When we believe that the outcome is 100% on us. If that’s the faith that we’re modeling for our kids, then we need to understand that we’re teaching them to follow a false god. The God of the Bible has a Name. His Name is Jesus. And Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. So if it ain’t easy and it ain’t light, it ain’t Jesus. That’s a little redneck, but it’s true. If it ain’t easy and it ain’t light, it ain’t Jesus!
That’s why Jesus is the only place where you can find rest. If you are in Christ, then you can take a deep breath. You can lie down. You can rest, because you know that even though you might have no fight left in you, your God has plenty of fight left in Him. And He’s never stopped fighting for you.
That’s what happens when someone who is weary and burdened comes to Jesus. They find rest. And something else that happens…they grow.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
When we get in the right line…when we come to Jesus as people who are weary and burdened…we find rest. We find peace. We receive grace.
And God’s grace is what leads to our growth. Jesus’ invites us into rest, and in His rest, He invites us to learn from Him. He invites us to become a learner, which is another word for a disciple.
This is what so many people misunderstand. They think that if churches preach too much grace, people will never grow. (By the way, how do you preach “too much grace?” I’m not sure that’s possible.) You’ve got to beat them over the head. You’ve got to make them feel like garbage. And then they’ll want to change.
The problem with that is that it relies on us to change ourselves. If I feel bad enough about something, I’ll stop doing it. And I’ll start doing something different.
Has that ever worked for you? “I just feel so bad about being a sinner that I’ll just stop sinning.” Has that ever worked for you? Has that ever worked, even one time? No it hasn’t.
That’s not how we grow. That’s not how we change. That’s now how we mature.
It’s just the opposite, actually. God’s grace leads to our growth. When we understand God’s grace more fully, we’ll follow God more closely. Grace draws us into close proximity to Jesus. It draws us into His rest. And when we’re that close to Jesus, we are changed. How we think is changed. How we act and react is changed. But it’s an inside-out change. It starts in our heart and soul, and then grows out into our actions. It’s a lifelong process, but it’s a process that is fueled by God’s inexhaustible grace.
And here’s why this message belongs in a parenting series. I know you’re not the mom or the dad that you want to be. I know that you lay down some nights and just feel like you could not have blown it any bigger that day. I know you feel overwhelmed and under-qualified as a parent.
But if you understand the gospel, then you’ll understand that your #ParentingFails don’t make you a failure. They might make you weary and burdened, but that just means that you’re primed for Jesus to do what only He can do. Give you rest. And grow you in His grace.
That means that who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow. The mom that you are today is not the mom you will be tomorrow. The dad that you are today is not the day you will be tomorrow. If God’s grace is at work in you, then your failures today will not be your failures tomorrow.
But the only way to get there is to let go of perfection. Your hope as a parent is found in perfection rejection. Your hope as a person is found in perfection rejection. Reject this idea that you somehow have to be perfect, and get in line with everyone else who is weary and burdened. And then let Jesus go to work.
One more time from Matthew 11. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
Are you tired, mom and dad? Are you feeling the pressure, the burden, more and more everyday?
And that can be just as true if you’re not a parent. Are you feeling exhausted and exasperated? Is the weight of it all crushing you? Do you feel like you’ll never measure up? You’ll never get it right? You’re just such a failure?
You need to know that that’s right where Jesus will meet with you. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.”
In other words, Jesus’ invitation is for us to come to Him, just as we are. He’ll do the changing. He’ll do the growing. But we have to come to Him just as we are. Flawed. Tired. Burdened. Imperfect.
And that’s what this song celebrates. We’re going to sing a song that the church has used to worship for over two centuries. And it’s a song that celebrates what we’ve been talking about all morning. We come to Jesus just as we are. Weary. Burdened. Broken. Failed. Sinful. We come to Him just as we are, and He does an amazing work in us.
So take in the rich depth of this old hymn. And enter into the rest that Jesus is offering you right now.
Jesus will receive each one of us, just as we are. He won’t leave us where we are, but He will absolutely meet us where we are. And like we just sang, He will welcome, pardon, cleanse, and relieve us.
So if you’re weary and burdened, if you’re worn down and broken, that just means that you’re primed and ready to come to Jesus. And we’ve got some folks who would love to talk and pray with you about that. They’ll be waiting by the fountain on the veranda after church. If you’re struggling, if you’re feeling like you want to just give up, if you’re weary and burdened, let these folks love you. Let them serve you and pray with you.
I’m sure glad that Jesus meets me where I am, instead of waiting on me to get where I need to be. Aren’t you? Aren’t you glad that God didn’t wait around for us to get ourselves right? Instead, Jesus came into our world, right into the middle of our mess. And He came to die on a cross, to pay the price for all of our sin. And then He rose again, meaning that new life is now available to all of us.
Aren’t you glad that He came to our rescue? That’s what we’re going to celebrate as we close out this service and this entire series. We have all kinds of #ParentingFails, and all kinds of other fails, too. But in His grace, Jesus took them all to the cross with Him. Because of love and because of grace, He came to our rescue. So let’s celebrate that right now!