What is a successful Christian?

By Rev. Bill Stumpf

Lord will only a few people be saved?  That is the question posed to Jesus in our gospel this weekend.

 In many ways the strangers question was also a way of asking – Lord in the end who will be judged successful?  For in Jesus’ day righteousness was closely associated with one’s status.

 Consequently that led me to start thinking about what it means to be successful.  I think we are all familiar with how the world views success.  Generally it is associated with money, career, education, achievement, power, or popularity.

 But the question remains – what does it mean to be successful as a Christian?  To answer that question, I began reflecting on the lives of a number of folks who have died in the past few years here at St. Agnes.

 None of them were fabulously wealthy.   None of them were famous or powerful.  And as far as I can remember none of their lives was marked by great achievement.

 But in my mind they were very successful.  And thus based on their seemingly ordinary lives, I would like to share a few thoughts on what I think it means to be successful as a Christian.  The list is not exhaustive and probably barely scratches the surface.  But here a few simple thoughts.

 First.  Successful Christians live in hope.  If you think about it hope is really an attitude or a stance toward life.  It is a stance that looks for goodness and focuses on blessings rather than actual or potential problems.

It is a stance or attitude of optimism and it is grounded in a belief that God is benevolent, loving and caring.

Second.  Successful Christians are aware of others and not pre-occupied with themselves.  Thus they are aware of the small needs around them – folks who are hurting, or folks who need a helping hand or a word of encouragement.

They don’t look to do great things to change the world but rather as Mother Theresa said they do small things with great love.

Third.  Successful Christians know the real treasures in life.  They know that life is short, fragile and precious.  They know that families are a blessing and worth the burdens.  They know that a true friend is a gift without measure.

Last.  Successful Christians know the value of reconciliation.  They understand that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Thus they know the importance of forgiveness and are very hesitant to condemn others.  They focus on unity rather than differences.

As I said earlier, the list could probably go and on. But I do better with a few simple ideas – perhaps you do as well.

One thing is for certain – in the end God will not judge us on how perfect we were but rather on our willingness to keep on trying.  And thus real successfulness is about faithfulness.

Let us ask then for the grace to do so.