I recently had one of those melancholic moments where you just look at yourself and ask God:
'Lord, I constantly stumble and struggle with sin, never seem to have enough time for you, why would you bother with a nobody like me?'
In the time I managed to spend with God over my honest feelings, the biblical characters really seemed to stand out. Then I happened to listen to one of those reflective moments on a local Christian radio station.
It was about how the Lord has not always used the 'righteous' to do his work. Take a look at some of the biblical characters for example.
'Hey yeah, they are right' I realised, having virtually forgotten this fact and so my curiosity was re-ignited.
Heroes of faith
While skimming through the Bible and reflecting on these characters, one of the striking features I noticed about the men and women who performed deeds of epic proportions was their flaws. And by their flaws, I refer to their sins and weaknesses.
Reading through Genesis chapters 15 and 16, Abraham, the man who was counted righteous by believing God's miraculous promise of countless descendants and world-wide blessing, turns around in the next chapter and tries to help God out by having a child with a woman who was not his wife.
Noah got drunk and involved in some questionable family antics right after being delivered through a worldwide flood of destruction. Moses was impatient with the God who had parted the Red Sea. David committed adultery and murder after being promised an eternal dynasty; the list goes on.
Things do not get any better when you move to the New Testament. Jesus's disciples heard his teachings and saw his miracles, but the gospels are filled with their hard-hearted lack of faith. They even learnt to perform healings and excise demons in Jesus’ name (Matthew chapter 10, verses 5-10) yet they abandoned our savior in his dying hour; not exactly encouraging.
So what are we to make of these less than perfect characters? When we think of the biblical characters in terms of their highlights, I found it to be discouraging; their experience feels like it's out of this world.
But carefully reading of these biblical accounts leaves us with a different picture. We read of people who committed terrible sins and showed surprisingly little faith despite all God's blessings.
I realised after reflecting on them, it's people like you and me. Their weaknesses help us identify with what we're reading. I guess God can and will work in us too.
God's mercy on display
Sinful characters help us see how patient God is. He uses people, not because of their righteousness and devotion, but because of his undeserved love.
King David's courage is inspiring, but God's forgiveness of David's illicit affair and subsequent arranged murder is simply stunning. It's God's mercy through and through.
God's transforming power
Once we look in to the flaws and ingrained sin of the biblical characters, their faith and obedience is even more amazing.
Think about it: these former rebels stepped into fiery furnaces, walked on water, and were sawn in two (see Hebrews chapter 11).
That really is testimony to the power of God's saving work. He overcomes our sinful nature and gives us a faith to overcome the world.
God is supreme
When our heroes are unmasked for who they really are, I feel we are less tempted to exalt and idolise them. It is God who is making a great name for himself.
So we may march around the city, but he is the one who tears down the walls of Jericho.
In my studies, I discovered God has told us he chooses the weak and despised so we cannot go bragging about our accomplishments (1 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 26-31).
Flawed characters point us to Jesus
Against the backdrop of all these flawed characters in Scripture, Jesus really stands out like a perfect diamond. In him you see His power, wisdom, compassion and His unshaken devotion to God.
We never see Jesus stumble in thought, word, or deed. He alone fulfilled God's law, always walking in obedience to His Father.
Seeing the other biblical characters fail reminds us we must put our trust in someone else: only Jesus can say without qualification, "Follow Me”.
Through all of this, I feel God has shown me I have been released from the hole I thought I was stuck in. The hole which never actually existed!
So let me ask you:
Do you stumble constantly? Have you done some poor things in your past?
If so, do you realize you are equally able to be chosen by God to do his work?
Just as these flawed biblical men were worthy (and clearly needed) the grace of God, you also are in line for his grace. It is there for you and me also.
God's grace is enough. We are enough.
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics technician currently working in the transaction hardware industry. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions! He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God’s own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.
Michael Dahlenburg’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics technician. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions! He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God’s own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.Michael Dahlenburg’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html