Some days I don’t’ realize that the stories of scripture involve real people like me who failed God and who were forgiven. Take Peter: he denied Jesus and yet he was fully restored by Jesus.
I tend to tell myself: Yeah, but that’s only for Peter. That doesn’t apply to me.
It’s really easy to disqualify ourselves from following Jesus.
Whether it’s a persistent sin or a really big sin, we’re often the first ones to rule ourselves out from God’s mercy, let alone to think of ourselves as useful for God.
This disqualification makes a critical error: we think that we have to bring perfection to God in order to be useful.
God changes us, not the other way around.
Even with God on our side, perfection will be an illusion most days. We can indeed make progress, grow, change, and become more like Christ, but it’s a long, hard haul.
If God was waiting for perfect people before acting, he would never do a thing.
I’m particularly fond of the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. He had an angel literally show up and predict the future for him: he and his wife would bear a son in their old age.
Wasn’t that good enough?
Apparently not. He doubted the words of the angel.
Did God disqualify him?
While God took away his speech for nine months, a fitting way to deal with someone who used his words to doubt God’s message, he was still God’s chosen person to raise his mighty prophet.
God still used Zechariah.
When Zechariah got his second chance to believe after the birth of John, he affirmed the words of the angel and shared a beautiful prophecy about John’s future.
Sin is still a big problem for God’s people, but it doesn’t necessarily have to disqualify us.
It must be confessed.
Our ways must change.
We must struggle, even if we fail over and over again.
God isn’t looking for perfect people. In fact, the people who once doubted the most may one day become the strongest believers.
We tend to only see what disqualifies us. God sees what he can heal.
Ed Cyzewski is the co-author of Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus and author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and Divided We Unite. He shares his imperfect thoughts about following Jesus at www.inamirrordimly.com.