Ever noticed how much God loves using the wrong people?
Maybe you feel too young. Or too old. Or too weak. Or too uneducated. Or too analytical. Or too simple. Or too timid. Or too introverted. Or too ordinary. Or too sinful. Or too whatever.
Perhaps the most boring Bible-reading of the New Testament Scriptures comes right before the Christmas story. It’s found at the beginning of Matthew and it’s called a geneology. For years I skipped over this seemingly mundane list of names from the family tree of Jesus. I felt like it was a nice thing for someone to write down in the front of a family Bible somewhere, but it sure had no relevance to my life.
Until one day five letters jumped off the page of my Bible: “Rahab”. Fifth verse of the New Testament. Rahab was a hooker. And I don’t mean a former hooker that had changed her ways; I mean a woman of the night who lived in the wall of a city. She had absolutely nothing going for her. Nothing except for a strange confidence in this God the Hebrews called Yahweh.
She lived in a place called Jericho and hid the Jewish spies as they were checking out the city that was about to be judged and destroyed by God. To her credit, she protected their lives, at great risk to herself. She acted shrewdly in the face of apparent danger. She remained faithful to her word and acted in faith.
But if you read the story (Joshua 2 and 6) and feel like it’s all about how “right” Rahab was you’ve missed the point. If you read about little David and big Goliath and come away impressed with David’s sling shot skills you miss the point. Whenever you hear a man’s testimony and come away impressed with how right that man was for the job I guarantee you are missing the point.
It’s all about God. It’s about a God who finds a way to break into the lives of wrong people despite their “wrongness”.
God is always choosing the wrong people.
It always saddens me to hear people complain about their marriages. So many people wonder if they “chose the wrong person.” I always tell people that I have tremendous hope for their marriage because we all chose the wrong person! We’re all the wrong person! In fact, if you feel like you married the right person, brace yourself, because they will change. Trust me, this is really good news. The key to marriage is not your happiness; it’s your holiness, which describes the re-creative work of God in the souls of “wrong” people.
The message of Scripture is that no one is the “right” person. No one, that is, except for God.
Back to the wrong people and a dull geneology.
As I reread the Matthew geneology, the more I realize how many “wrong” people make the list. Abraham let another man take his wife Sarah to be his wife. God intervened. Jacob was a deceiver. God stepped in and wrestled the you-know-what out of him. Judah slept with his son’s wife – though he thought she was a prostitute – and later tried to kill her for being pregnant – until he realized he was the father. Seriously. God got involved. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba, the adulteress who slept with David – the same David who had her husband killed because the man wouldn’t sleep with his wife while he was fighting for David. I could keep going but eventually I’d have to tell my story. Trust me, I’m the wrong person in more ways than I care to reveal.
Have you detected a pattern yet?
When God chose the people through whom He would come into this world, he picked all the wrong people, ultimately choosing a peasant girl from the backside of a Roman empire.
The Bible is not a collection of stories about people who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. There are no such examples. Because everybody is wrong. Because there is only One who is truly good. And he ended up executed on a tree. Trust me, we’re all so “wrong” we’re helpless. But here’s the hope: because of that tree, God breaks into the lives of people who know they’re broke, but somehow believe that He’s not. People humble enough to declare spiritual bankruptcy.
Abraham, Rahab, Jacob … wrong people with one thing in common: they believed in this very good God, and He accounted that belief as “rightness.”
Now that’s peace on earth and goodwill toward man.