Sometimes, we idealize people in the Bible…like Abraham or Moses or Paul, for example.
And what about Moses? Some people call him the greatest leader in the Bible, save Jesus. But when was the last time you called a murderer a great national leader? Okay Bible buff, I guess that was before his great leadership days, wasn’t it? Ah, yes, but what about making his followers wander through a wasteland for 40 years? 40 years! This trip should have only taken 2-3 weeks by foot. And let’s say with all the caravans involved it takes a month or so to make the trip. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, the point is, this trip took 40 years. Now-a-days if a pastor takes a few extra minutes of our Sunday mornings, we’re ready to kick him to the curb. Or if a leader doesn’t have a 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year vision, we’re calling for mutiny. We don’t want leaders to waste our precious time, let alone our entire lives. Forgive me for going on so long about this one, but we don’t usually follow anyone for 40 years, no matter how good they are. So there’s a more human perspective on Moses.
Now for the last guy, Paul. What about good ol’ Paul? Once again, involved in murders and persecutions. Okay, again, those were his B.C. days. But would you have hired this guy for a pastor’s position? First, I don’t think he looked the part. Tradition says he was kind of hunched over, with a gnarly nose, and watering eyes, aka not exactly someone who will draw the crowds while teaching on stage. Maybe you’d hire him as a staff member? But he would have failed the background check with his prison record. Would you have sent him out of your church as a missionary to another country…when he used to be the enemy of the church and a persecutor of Christians? I don’t think we would have given this guy a chance. I know I probably wouldn’t have. He didn’t even know where to put a period when he wrote his letters. 😉
I’m not saying we need to go out and rack up a bad record like these guys did. We don’t need to fail in the same ways. I’m simply saying that God works in crazy and mysterious ways. He chooses unlikely candidates as well as likely candidates. He chooses common folk and privileged folk. Above all, He works miracles in and through imperfect people.