Some of the most important medical discoveries of our time were the result of a mistake. Lifesavers like the smallpox vaccine and penicillin were unexpected results of people experimenting and looking for quite different results. At the moment our Doctor and Nurses are discovering new ways of treating and helping those with the Coronavirus every day. They don’t just give us because one thing they have tried doesn’t seem to work – they carry on exploring and learning from one another.
A group of people in Paris felt this principle was so important that a few years ago they made it the foundation of a festival. The Festival of Errors set out to teach children it was OK to fail. These people were concerned that the learning environment in which French children grow up doesn’t allow them to make mistakes, and, by making mistakes, to cultivate flexibility of mind, problem-solving abilities and self-confidence. To create an environment where mistakes are not possible, they argued, is to make learning more difficult and to close down all kinds of possibilities that might emerge in a messier approach.
Jesus’ disciples, would, I feel sure, have approved of such a festival and would have joined in wholeheartedly as they were always making mistakes!
Even though they had spent, what today would be called 'quality-time' with their Lord and Master, they so often just didn’t get the point.
They just didn’t understand who Jesus was – at least not at first. They didn’t even get it when he calmed storms, walked on water, fed the 5,000 or brought the dead back to life. But Jesus remained calm and showed great patience with his motley crew and they for their part persevered to explore all possibilities and eventually, the penny dropped. This person that they had been travelling with, eating with and sharing stories with, was the Messiah. He was the Saviour of the world, come to be one of us here on this earth and come to save us.
Today, Christianity is the largest religion in the world with over 2 billion followers around the world – i.e. nearly a third of the global population. In Britain today, some 42 million people describe themselves as Christian, and there are 6 million who are actively practising.
But what would have happened if The Disciples had just given up and walked away the first time that they got things wrong? If they had just given up because they didn’t understand? The disciples were a rather motley crew, but they – even though they made mistakes – continued to ask questions and to explore new possibilities and were the founders of the Christian faith, which we know today spread right across the globe.
So I hope that this is an encouragement to anyone who may be trying to achieve something, but hasn’t quite got there yet. Romans 8: 31 says: What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? You may not achieve what you set out to do, you may achieve even more! And like Jesus’ 12 Disciples, you just never know what you can achieve if you don’t give up and are not afraid to 'have another go'.