“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.”
“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13
The Perfect Candidate
Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting. They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.
Which one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.
But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their 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 in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.
Genesis of Dysfunction
A while back I read through the book of Genesis 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 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
Check this out…
- 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.
And there’s more!
- 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! MESSED UP!
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 use ANYBODY!