So many times we can fall into the trap, or at least I can, of thinking that the people in the Bible were “heroes.” I think I even had a Bible that had a little section called “Heroes of the Bible.” I hate that. There’s one hero. His name is Jesus. Look closely at all the characters in the Bible. Certainly they set good examples and we should seek to emulate parts of that, but ultimately, God chose them not because of anything inherent in them, but simply because he is God…and that’s what he felt like doing. They were sinners just like me. That’s somewhat comforting, isn’t it? Paul sinned. Just like me. Maybe that’s just me.
Look at Luke 6:12-16: “In these days he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
What’s interesting about this passage is what it doesn’t say. Notice that there are no Forbes Top 50 resumes on here. There’s no little parentheses next to Peter’s name that says: “Simon, also called Peter. Loves to fish. Great people skills.” It’s not there. Not in any translation, version, or paraphrase (hopefully). Peter chopped a dude’s ear off, which begs the question why he had a sword in the first place. He wasn’t perfect. Neither was Moses, Paul, Abraham, Noah, or any other biblical character. The most descriptive we get here is talking about Judas Iscariot, and it’s not exactly your favorite Sunday horoscope.
The point is that no one is perfect except Jesus.
Jesus was perfect. And he alone is able to save us. He alone is who we should ultimately seek and imitate. Not our pastor, not our favorite speaker or author. Jesus. In the world in which we live, it’s easy to get caught up with what’s cool and new in the world, and it’s no different for Christianity. We have become so concerned with how we look as Christian leaders and authors and writers and speakers that we fail to recognize that without Christ, we are nothing. I see this disturbing trend in Christianity of people substituting John Piper or David Platt or (insert favorite modern pastor here) for Jesus. We substitute going to church to hear what Piper has to say for going to the Word to hear what God has to say.
I pray that as we seek to impact this world for God that we remember that it is Christ who makes us who we are, not anyone else. Not even ourselves, if we are in Christ. We must give up ourselves for the glory of God through serving Christ daily. And we know that it is not about us…look at the apostles.
There was nothing special about them. They were 12 ordinary men. Were some of them smart, or strong, or good speakers? Sure. There have also been tyrants and dictators in world history that were smart, strong, and great speakers, some better than the apostles. But that doesn’t mean they were equipped for the service of God.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says “And HE gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
For those of us in ministry, may we realize that it is God who put us there, and lest we get a Super-Sized head, may we stay humble and rest on Christ for our righteousness and boasting, not in ourselves. For those who are seeking to know more about God, and are growing and maturing in your faith, look to Jesus. While the teachings of these pastors, your pastors, your teachers might be fantastic, and while that’s a blessing, place your hope in Jesus. People will fail you, but Jesus will not. Don’t take everything you believe from the latest Christian bookstore. Go to the word.
Here’s my little disclaimer: This is not an excuse to “do” your faith by yourself. Be plugged into a church, for God places people around us to encourage us and build us up…just as the end of Ephesians 4:11 says. Your encouragement and growth should certainly be impacted by those around you, especially in the church. But who you are, and the foundations and doctrines of what you believe should come from God and his word alone.
If this doesn’t make sense, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share what God’s laid on my heart and to help you out.
Lastly: If you have prayer requests, feel free to email me or comment on here. I’d be more than happy to pray for you, regardless of whether I know you or not.
Also…in the next few days, hopefully, I’ll be writing a blog about the old covenant vs. the new covenant, taken from Luke 5:33-39. Go on and read it, check it out, and check back in when I’ve posted again.