Please stand up. Please stand up.

The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, doesn’t cut any corners when it tells the stories of its heros.  (Well maybe a few corners- like we don’t know much about Melkizedek or Enoch, and how do Rahab get integrated into the Israelites, did Deborah have a role model, was Daniel married, did Samson and Absalom have dreadlocks…?)  In their worst moments, Moses murdered someone and figured his speech impediment could stop God speaking through him,  Jonah didn’t want the people saved that he prophesied to, and Sarah thought she could use people to speed up God’s promises.  In the OT we read all the beauty and honor and ugliness.  Every family had dysfunction, the majority of folks had skeletons in the closet or had experienced some intense hardship.  Why should leaders of the faith today or through the rest of history be any different?  We still see great leaders with nasty histories and some real blunders along the way in need of redemption.  And we can still appreciate the history shifting acts of God’s grace and learn from people’s follies.

All that to say that we studied a bit more of Martin Luther.  Why do these reformers and leaders have to be so complicated?  Couldn’t they just do the right thing through and through? Advocate for the Bible being put into the hands and language of the people? Yes!  Promote that every believer has direct access to God and argue against the selling of forgiveness of sins. Yeah!  Anti-semitism and promoting nationalistic religion?  No!  There seems to be no harm in Luther wanting to question celibacy as the best plan, but why must he disparage the roles of monks altogether?     

Luther, seen in the light of the OT reminds me of how God continues to work through us with all our triumphs and foibles.  I hate the mistakes.  Upon looking at the consequences of history’s tales of dissonance with God’s character, I grit my teeth and roll my eyes and seethe a bit over the paths of brokenness that need to have been.  But  thar they be.  There are a couple of responses we can have to this blend of the sublime and the foolish.  All the imperfections can lead us to give up on the whole endeavor.  We might ask, “Who wants to be part of this community of believers when God allows all these screw-ups to run things?”  Or we can thank God for using the fallible and weak and even ourselves to bring about His life-giving purposes.  And we can remember to walk with great humility and to trust God to overwhelm us with His redemption.   

 

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