North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    An interesting and perhaps comical story is recorded in the Gospel of Mark chapter 14. Jesus is betrayed by Judas, Peter chops off a guard’s ear, Jesus submits to his captors, and all the disciples run away. However, one of the disciples wasn’t fast enough and the guards lay hold of him. “A certain young man dressed only in a linen cloth was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him, but he ran away naked, leaving the cloth behind” (Mark 14:51-52). Tradition suggests that the young man was none other than John Mark himself, the author of the Gospel of Mark. Undoubtedly, he feared his life was at stake, and once the guards apprehended him, he slipped out of his clothes and streaked away!    A few years later, having overcome his naked get away, Mark is part of the Apostle Paul’s missionary band. But for some reason unrecorded in Scripture, we’re told in Acts 13:13, “Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. Mark decided he had enough and went home. Whatever the reason he left, Scripture indicates that Mark “deserted them” (Acts 15:37-38). It would seem that Mark had what some call a “spiritual failure”. But thank the Lord today; God in His forgiving, loving nature can redeem our failures.

    In Mark’s case we know he was redeemed. First, God chose John Mark to write the Gospel of Mark. And secondly, Paul, when he was in prison, called for John Mark to come visit. Paul, who at one time argued against Mark now paid him a high compliment by saying go get him, “He is useful to me in the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). The failures of John Mark’s past didn’t affect his usefulness in God’s Kingdom work. God doesn’t look for perfect vessels, just ready, willing, and humble ones.

    What is it we can do to minimize our own spiritual failures? One of the first things we can do is “Be Friendly”. Friendliness exhibits God’s love and exudes warmth, welcome, and understanding. Unfriendly Christians bring reproach upon themselves and discouragement to others. But friendly ones can release God’s positive power.

    The second thing we must do to avoid spiritual failure is “Be Forgiving”. Paul needed encouragement from John Mark. So Paul offered forgiveness and Mark responded with help. The Scripture is very clear, “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in Heaven will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (Matthew 6:14-15). We are called to forgive others in our heart although in some cases they don’t ask for or want our forgiveness. There’s no room for resentment in a Spirit-filled life! Forgiveness erases bondage and guilt and brings joy, peace, love, and spiritual success.

    The third thing needed to minimize spiritual failure is to “Be Faithful”. To be faithful requires that God reign supreme in our hearts and that His will for us trumps all other involvements. When others see our faithfulness it inspires confidence in them. It brings glory to God and reveals the genuineness of our faith. It also exhibits the keeping power of God, for His promise to His children is found in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful to me, even if it means death, and I’ll give you (eternal) life as your prize of victory.”

    Finally, to avoid spiritual failure requires that we “Be Fruitful”. A person whose interest is centered on material things and temporal gain rarely makes any significant spiritual progress in life. We must make the underlying goal of our life to be concerned about others. When we give of ourselves by helping the needy, feeding the hungry, and praying for the unsaved, we show what’s in our heart. Christ is our example of helping others. He tells us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.”

    We all falter and fail at one time or another in our lives. This is the nature of being imperfect beings in an imperfect world. The question is: Will we learn from our failures? God can redeem even our worst failures for His glory. Hallelujah for that!

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His most recent book is titled: “How the Race Was Won: A Coming of Age Story About Running”. He can be reached by email:

Posted by on May 22 2016. Filed under Church News, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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