The Keys To The Kingdom?
I know many Christians who live frightened lives. They are afraid of being judged. They are afraid of disappointing others and disappointing God. They live lives of fearful desperation. The generosity of spirit they lack toward themselves is often projected onto others. These poor souls become bitter and judgmental. They do not exhibit the fruit of the gospel. They exhibit a distortion of the gospel.
The scriptures are full of stories of broken and flawed people who were used by God. Because they became followers of God did not mean they stopped doing stupid things. They just recognized God’s grace was greater than their stupidity. There is no shortage of examples.
Jesus chose Peter to preach the first gospel message, the same Peter who spoke at the transfiguration when he should have kept his mouth shut. The same Peter who took his eyes off Jesus and fell into the water. The same Peter who cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. The same Peter who denied knowing Jesus. One could arguably say Peter did the wrong thing only slightly less often than he did the right thing. Yet he was given the keys to the kingdom.
How about David? He had an affair, impregnated a woman, put her husband in a place where he was sure to be killed, and still managed to be called a man after God’s own heart.
Given their checkered pasts, neither of these men would be chosen to lead a prestigious church. The search team would say, “We can’t choose David, there is infidelity in his background.” “We can’t choose Peter, the guy is a loose cannon. He’ll stick his foot in his mouth.” How about Jacob? “Ooh, we can’t consider him. There are inappropriate financial dealings in his background.”
You get the idea. I am not suggesting we take God’s grace and forgiveness for granted. Paul made that pretty clear in Romans 6. But who decided to take it upon themselves to determine who was in and who was out?
I spoke at a church recently in which one of the elders told me I was pretty dangerous because I believed women should be allowed preach. I certainly understand how he might disagree with me. Lots of people disagree with me. But to suggest that I am “pretty dangerous” seemed a bit of a stretch. Maybe I am misguided, but “pretty dangerous?”
I am pleased God seems to have found a use for lots of flawed people. It gives me hope – both for me and for the elder who thinks I am pretty dangerous.
And so it goes.