There’s some ugly stuff in the Bible, some of it risqué enough that I’ve sorta skimmed over it in our family devotionals.
Lying, rape, prostitution, murder, adultery, drunkenness.
And those are the good guys.
Abraham slept with his wife’s servant.
Jacob stole his brother’s birthright.
Tamar dressed up like a prostitute to seduce Judah, her father-in-law.
David committed adultery, then murdered his lover’s husband to cover it up.
We often hold up Bible characters as models of faithfulness—and in some ways they were (cf. Hebrews 11)—but I’m not sure that’s the main lesson we ought to take from their lives.
I believe the main lesson is what God does through messed-up people. After all, isn’t the Bible a story of what he has done in human history to demonstrate his glory in saving us?
It’s not as much about what we ought to do as it is about what he has done.
And what he’s done is incredible.
He took sinful, messed-up, often faithless, sometimes rebellious people and worked out his plan for saving you and me.
God came to earth out of a genealogy that isn’t exactly the poster child for the Top Ten Ways to Live for God (read the genealogy in Matthew 1 for a representative sample).
He surrounded himself with a group of undistinguished, run-of-the-mill, unlettered fishermen, taxmen, and zealots.
And he used all this messiness to save the world.
He used their mistakes to prove a point: nothing keeps him from accomplishing what he wants.
That’s what Paul says here: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
I’m starting to think that we need to focus less on how we can imitate great Bible characters.
I think we ought to think more about thanking God for what he did through a bunch of people who didn’t have much to offer.
By the way, he’s still doing this today, which is why he’s doing great things in our muddled, unremarkable lives.
If he used the Bible’s remarkably flawed heroes, just think about what he might do in you.