When I’m asked in a survey, questionnaire, poll, or social “get to know you” mixer what my favorite book is, I always say the Bible. Not because I’m trying to sound super spiritual, but because it is literally the book that I love and have read the most. I’ve been reading and reading it for 44 years, so I’m pretty sure that qualifies as a “favorite”. I love it for a host of reasons which include a daily reminder that God loves me, that He has always been there, and always will be. It gives me hope, peace, wisdom, encouragement, joy, wonder, amazement, and so much more. It also challenges me to be better, to grow and mature, and ultimately to please God. But one of my favorite things about my favorite book is its characters. Every book or story is measured by its characters. The people and their stories, their “His/story”. Are they compelling? Do they connect with the reader? Is the reader drawn into the story because they find a little bit of themselves in these characters?
Obviously, the Bible as the greatest selling book of all time has made a connection with its readers like no other. God’s story or “His/story” has transformed the world. The cool thing is its all true. It’s not fiction. As Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16, his own chapter or account of God’s story, “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories or fables when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” The writers of this incredible collection where not only eyewitnesses who chronicled our human interaction with almighty God, they were inspired by His spirit to write every word. God could have penned it himself in stone just like He did the 10 Commandments, but He let us, His creation tell His story. In the beginning most of it wasn’t written down. It was told or shared around the campfire, on the trail, on the job, in tents, and anywhere else people talked and got together. It was passed down from generation to generation until they were able to put it on paper. God got the WORD out, and we helped deliver it.
This is awesome stuff, but I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part yet. Are you ready? Are you sitting on the edge of your seat? Are you comfortable and in a safe position so that the shock of my revelation will not cause bodily harm when it causes you to jump for joy?
“Okay Robby that’s enough! Just tell us already! Jeez Louise, get a grip on yourself!”
Well, my revelation is probably not as thrilling as the buildup or hype, but my favorite thing about the Bible and its characters is that they are JUST LIKE ME! They’re not perfect. They’re misfits, rejects, outcasts, screw ups, insecure, anxious, weak, naïve, arrogant, jealous, hot headed, overly sensitive, incomplete, immature, gullible, skeptical, doubtful, cowardly, obstinate, neurotic, narcissistic, sinful, and everything else that makes us human. In fact, there was only One who was perfect in the whole book. Can you guess who it is? Of course, you can, you’re not a complete idiot. It’s Jesus. To know that God would include a group of ragtag misfits and rejects in His/story gives me hope and a greater appreciation for His unfailing love. I don’t know about you, but I get fired up just thinking about it. I also need to be reminded on a daily basis that even though I’m broken and unworthy, God hasn’t given up on me. He isn’t finished with me yet.
Before I get started on my list of the Bibles “Hall of Shame”, I want to emphasize that God can use anyone good or bad to accomplish His will and purposes. It doesn’t matter how flawed or broken we are, He can work with that. He even worked with a donkey once. He can work with anything because He’s God. However, His purpose for us is transformation. He doesn’t want us to stay flawed and broken. He wants to make us whole again, the way that He originally created us to be before our sin messed everything up. He wants to give us a “holy makeover”, out with the old and in with the new!
“17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
“1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV
“Robby, when you said the Bibles ‘Hall of Shame’ didn’t you mean ‘Hall of Fame’?”
When we think about Biblical figures, they are larger than life. While we do get a glimpse of their imperfections, it is often overshadowed by their legends and heroic deeds. There is even a chapter that is dedicated to the heroes of the faith. Turn to Hebrews 11 in your Bibles and check it out. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it includes some of the biggest names in Biblical history, but I want to point out something important in this chapter. As it lists their accomplishments there are TWO WORDS that precede their wonderous deeds. Without these two words there aren’t any heroes or legends. Those two words are “BY FAITH”. Without faith, without trusting God none of what they accomplished would have been possible. Great things didn’t happen because of their ability or anything they possessed. It was all accomplished through faith in God, the only One who could make it happen. “By faith we can do all things through, and only through Christ/God who strengthens us.” (Philippians 4:13 paraphrased.) God is the one who makes it happen. Without him we are nothing.
“5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
Now that the stage is set let’s meet some of God’s colorful characters, the misfits and rejects that He used and transformed to tell His/Story and accomplish His will despite their flaws and imperfections. I hope that their stories will provide much needed encouragement, comfort, and hope that our story isn’t finished yet.
“3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-5 NIV
Have a great weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC