Two Men Prayed
You know the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, don’t you? Jesus told the story, as recorded in Luke 18:10-11
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”
Imagine that instead of the temple, they walked into a search committee meeting. A meeting of people designated with the task of finding, let’s say, a new pastor for a church (at least that’s the way we do it in the Baptist denomination). They walk in, introduce themselves, compare resumes, and one gets the job. Which one? The one that fits the picture of what every Christian fit for service should be – perfect.
But God doesn’t just use perfect people; He uses those who’ve made mistakes, REAL people.
However, within many churches there are men and women who feel inferior and useless because of sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church. They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed before, but want to start anew.
They are not the ones that look down on others for mistakes they’ve made. They’re not Pharisees.
Have you ever considered how dysfunctional the characters of Genesis were?
I read through the book of Genesis last week in a couple of sittings. Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective. This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were! There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer, or TrueTV look tame!
Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems. At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes. Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…
Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field. When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But Leah replied to her, Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband? Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”
“Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB
Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed. Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen. Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds. Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her. Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose. The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised. It just goes on and on.
Messed up, I am telling you!
God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” How is this even possible?
If God can use Abraham and his family with all their problems to bless the nations, then He can SURELY use ANYBODY!