As a pastor and as a lay person I have seen too many Christians believe at least one of two lies. Both of are easy to believe. We believe them because we lack self-esteem or because we want to be excused from God’s service, but neither are even remotely supported by scripture. These lies are so similar that it is difficult to separate them.
Lie #1: God can’t love me.
Too many of us believe that we are too old, or too young, or too damaged, or so inferior, that even God can’t make something of us. But the stories that we read in the Bible tell us about people with flaws. The men and women in God’s story were loved by God despite their imperfections and none of them were perfect. But God called them just the same.
After the flood, one of the very first things that Noah did was to plant a vineyard, make wine, get drunk, and pass out. But God still loved him.
King David is described as a man after God’s own heart, but cheated on his wife, took another man’s wife, and then had that man killed to cover it up.
Abraham told the Pharaoh that his wife was really his sister because he was afraid that the Pharaoh would kill him and steal his wife. Abraham was a coward who, despite his faith, didn’t trust that God could protect him. God loved him anyway.
Solomon loved women and pleasure too much. Despite God’s warnings, Solomon takes hundreds of wives and concubines and allows himself every pleasure under the sun, but Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from God and Nehemiah says that Solomon sinned by doing these things. But God still loved him.
The Pharisees had rules about who good people ought to associate with and which people good folks should stay away from. But Jesus ignored those rules. Jesus made friends with, and spent time with prostitutes, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and outcasts that society hated.
There is simply nothing you can do that can make you unlovable.
What’s more, many of these damaged people became heroes and champions of God’s story.
Lie #2: God can’t use me.
Joseph and David were the younger brothers in a culture that placed honor and value on the oldest brothers. No one really expected the younger brothers to amount to anything, but God called these men to rescue nations.
Likewise, Gideon was from a small family, from a small town, from a small tribe that wasn’t known for much. No one expected anything more than mediocrity but God called Gideon to drive out an occupying army and save his people.
Jesus’ friends were tax collectors who collaborated with the Roman government, fishermen who were thought of as country hicks, prostitutes, outcast, and crazy militia guys (zealots) who took up arms against their government, .
Jesus said that a Roman Centurion had more faith than anyone in Israel.
In the Easter story, the first people who first saw the empty tomb, who first saw Jesus, and who were sent as messengers to tell the disciples were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. But women weren’t legally reliable witnesses. Under Roman law, slaves could give testimony in court (if they were tortured) but women could not. Women were considered to be prone to hysteria and fits of emotion. Even a group of women were considered to be unreliable. And yet, who does Jesus send as the first messengers and witnesses? Women.
No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter what you have been through…
God can still use you.