(Note: This post first appeared in my church's newsletter for December 2019.)
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” -John 1:5
When I was young, I once got it in my head to make a list of all the “heroes” of the Bible who had been “perfect” so that I could study them more closely. I was disappointed to realize how hard this was. Abraham and Sarah were impatient and lied. Moses lost his temper. David? Adultery and murder. Peter? Denial. Paul? Murder again. Adam and Eve? Um...no.
Over time, my disappointment transformed as I made two realizations. First was that the point is not for me to be perfect, but trust that God’s love is perfect. God’s grace shines in the darkness not because of human perfection, but because of godly persistence. God has always used imperfect people to do the things of heaven here on earth. God always seems to show up in the wrong place: in the wilderness, among the sinners, in a manger, and, above all, at the cross.
Second, that meant that my imperfect life could be used by God, too. I didn’t need to be perfect, but faithful; not flawless, but following. The good news of the Gospel is about a god who comes to heal, help, and correct the broken people and places of this world. God takes flesh not only in Jesus at Bethlehem, but in us, too.
Our job as Christians isn’t to never make mistakes, but to allow the grace of God to heal us and then share how that healing matters with others. That is the real story of the heroes of the Bible. God reshaped their lives and the effects are an inspiration to us today. In the same way, your life, your story is important for others.
We may not think of ourselves as heroes of faith or important people in the world, but your story of faith -- your victories and joys and doubts and struggles, and where God is in the midst of them -- are exactly the good news someone needs to hear. This Advent and Christmas, remember that God is with us not just in the Jesus in the manger, but in the Jesus who lives in you. May God use you to light the darkness.
From the Gray,
“Here in my head full of shame, you pick me up and say I look like you.” -Jars of Clay, “Sing”