We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
—2 Corinthians 6:3-10, NIV
Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection teach me that I don’t have to be a success in this life. If I am a soldier in a war, and I die, I still win if my general wins. My defeat helps to bring about my general’s victory, and in my defeat I am victorious. This is just an allegory, of course. The soldier who dies in a secular war dies without knowing the final outcome, he dies knowing that he will not personally share in the spoils of victory, for his share will go only to his memory and to his widow.
But if I die as a soldier of the cross, I know the final outcome in advance, because Jesus already won on Calvary! I die in certain knowledge of my vindication, and in the hope of the resurrection, when I shall personally share in the spoils of victory! How much better it is to die in Christ than to die in even the greatest of earthly wars!
I do not need to be strong, for Jesus is strong; I do not have to win, because Jesus has already won, I do not have to be a big man in the world, because Jesus is greater than the world. I do not need to be famous or notorious, because even if the world forgets me, Jesus will remember me. Even if I die, I will live, because Jesus will raise me up!
The people of this world are wise when they see a need for success in the present moment, because the present moment is all they have. But this worldly wisdom is ultimately foolish. Woe to those who think they need success in this world, for they have enlisted in the wrong army, an army that is already defeated in a world that is passing away.
I, however, am strong enough to be poor, strong enough to be defeated, strong enough to be anonymous, strong enough to be small, and strong enough to be a failure—because I belong to Jesus. Jesus has overcome the world, so failing in Jesus is greater than succeeding in the world.