Step 8: Are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.
If you made a truly honest movie of the Bible, most of the Old Testament would have to be at least R-rated, and even that’s with certain scenes toned down. Behind the heroic stories of faith many of us grew up with in Sunday School are secondary stories of murder, adultery, incest, drunkenness, deceit, lust, jealousy, general mayhem and overall debauchery. And these are just the good guys we’re talking about — the heroes, so to speak. Wait until you hear about the other guys!
Behind the scenes, you find out that Solomon was a bigamist, Samson was a womanizer, Jacob was a deceiver, Gideon was an idolater, David was an adulterer and murderer, and Jonah was running away from God even after he got to Nineveh. It’s important to note also that these bad behaviors were not just stories of how bad these people were before God got a hold of them; they were this way after — even during — being used of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes. In many cases, God’s will depended on their sinful activity. Jacob would never have gotten the blessing and become the Father Israel, had he not schemed, lied and tricked his way into receiving it from his father, Isaac. Go figure. The road Samson took that ended in taking out thousands of the enemy including all of its rulers, ran through a forbidden relationship with a Canaanite woman he didn’t even bother marrying. Over and over again this kind of thing happens.
And these are our models?
Bono, of U2, once said, “That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.”
And just what would that comfort be? It would be the fact that God’s Hall of Fame is crowded with people guilty of crimes I would have never even thought of committing, and the obvious comfort in that is the knowledge that if God loves and uses these kinds of people, there’s certainly hope for you and me. God not only uses us in spite of our weakness, failure and sin; He uses us because of these things. They are a part of the story.
You ultimately have to ask the question: “Why did God choose people like this? Why didn’t He pick good, upstanding individuals who would exemplify His righteous standards in the way they went about living their lives?” And sooner or later the answer comes back, “because these are the only people He has to work with.” In other words, those guys who look like they are upstanding and righteous are really not. They are just a bunch of Pharisees who look good on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones.
Pharisees are all about good behavior. True Christianity is all about faith and bad behavior all mixed together, with God’s will coming out in the end. It’s terribly messy, but then again, it’s what the grace of God is all about. God is basically saying, “Give me a bunch of messed up people whose hearts are turned towards me, and I will change the world with them.” So what are we waiting for?