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The People God Uses

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One of the funniest things I see in the church is the way we heroically lift up characters in Scripture and make them seem larger than life. We talk as if their faith was superhuman and that’s why God decided to use them. However, when we really look at their lives it’s amazing to think that God would actually choose them for his team. Just check out these guys:

Abraham – We don’t really know anything about Abraham before God announced his covenant with him. While he had some amazing acts of faith, he also cowardly told Pharaoh that his wife was really his sister so Pharaoh would have his way with her and not kill him.

Isaac – Abraham’s son followed in his father’s footsteps, doing something very similar to his own wife. He also played favorites with his sons, leading to a brutal rivalry between the two of them.

Jacob – Isaac’s younger son was known for tricking others. He cheated his older brother out of his birthright, failed to follow through on his commitments, and made plenty of enemies along the way. Oh and did I also mention that he played favorites among his multiple wives and his twelve sons? And yet, God changed his name to Israel and built a nation from his offspring.

Judah – He was Jacob’s son and once slept with his daughter-in-law. Don’t worry, he thought she was just a random prostitute! His offspring only became the biggest tribe in Israel.

Moses – This guy was scared of public speaking. He also grew up in a privileged home without any exposure to the life of slavery his fellow Israelites experienced every day. He eventually murdered a guy and ran away. But that’s when God appeared to him in a burning bush.

Samuel – He was a great prophet but a terrible father. In fact, he was so bad that the people demanded he appoint a king for them just so his sons wouldn’t take his place.

David – He was a man after God’s own heart but had multiple wives and still managed to cheat on them with another woman. Oh, and after he got her pregnant he killed her husband! And then became an ancestor of Jesus…

Tamar, Bathsheba, Rahab – All women with sordid sexual histories (like incest, adultery, and prostitution) and all mentioned by Matthew as a part of Jesus’ genealogy in a day when even the most respectable women weren’t considered worthy of such mention.

Solomon – David’s son prayed for wisdom, amounted unbelievable wealth, and got drunk on his own success. I don’t know what possesses a man to marry hundreds of women but he did it. He also wrote Ecclesiastes, which reads like a man who needs a really big hug.

Peter – One of Jesus’ closest disciples was also a lowly fisherman and publicly denied Jesus three times while he was being hauled off for crucifixion. But read the book of Acts and you’ll see a guy who spread the Gospel like it was a death-defying stunt.

Matthew – Another one Jesus’ disciples… Did I mention he was a tax collector, a profession that pretty much requires selling out your entire community so you can get rich?

Paul – He imprisoned, tortured, and killed Christians. His career took a serious left turn when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and chose him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He only became the greatest Christian missionary in human history from that point forward.

Timothy – Paul’s protégé was fatherless, young, and was so nervous that he had persistent stomach issues. That didn’t stop him from being the one Paul trusted to clean up the mess in Ephesus while at the end of his own ministry.

What about you?

Are you that parent who can’t get it together?
Is your personal life less than perfect?
Is your marriage falling apart?
Do you deal with crippling anxiety or depression?
Do you sometimes feel like a self-serving coward?
Do you have some serious regrets in your past?

Let’s take it a step further…

Have you killed someone in the heat of the moment?
Have you been juggling hundreds of women at once?
Have you sold out the ones you love?
Have you scammed your own relatives?
Have you dressed like a prostitute to get your dead husband’s father to impregnate you?

All of these characters would have to check “yes” next to at least one of these questions. And here’s the kicker – you don’t find these details hidden in the footnotes of Scripture or in the back of some long-forgotten commentary. The biblical writers went out of their way to mention these things. They weren’t trying to turn these people into spiritual superheroes. Instead, they were making the opposite point.

These are the kinds of people God uses. Broken people. Hurting people. People who would make great headlines for a Jerry Springer episode. He takes a young kid and puts him in leadership over corrupt old men. He takes a prostitute and uses her bloodline to birth Emmanuel (literally means “God is with us”) into the world. He takes a forgotten fisherman and uses him to lead the church. He turns a murderer into the deliverer of his people.

If God would pick any one of them, do you really think your own struggles are so bad that he wouldn’t use you?

Posted in: Faith

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