Misfits Turned Radical Lovers of Jesus

Jesus called twelve misfits to join him in his ministry. Even though they dropped everything to follow him, all along the way, their imperfections were screaming, “Losers – the whole lot of you”!

Jesus knew they were all a mess. He could have complained to God like Moses did, “Oh, Father, far be it for me to question your judgment, but isn’t there someone else you could come up with for this monumental task? If I’m going to babysit these whiners and complainers for the next three years, how can I get anything accomplished?” But he acquiesced, “Okay, fine. Not My will but Yours, Lord.”

I don’t know, but I’ll take a stab at God’s reasoning. Okay, I’m a liar. I do know because there are a bazillion verses in scripture about boasting and none of them elicit a high-five from God. Which I’m assuming speaks volumes about our stubborn prideful humanness.

I’m thinking Jesus had a list and chose them as the least-worst disciples to pick from. They had nothing to boast about, but they would anyway. At least at the beginning of that three-year adventure with Jesus. Of course, that all changed after Jesus died. Then you see a lot of their teachings in scripture about not boasting. Like 1 Corinthians 1:31, James 4:16, and Ephesians 2:9, just to name a few.

Another question that often comes up is why the disciples so readily followed Jesus in the first place. I’ll take a stab at this one too. Here were twelve guys hoping for a shot at greatness. Surely by now, they had heard of the crowds Jesus was drawing. He was charismatic and charming, and, WOW, those miracles…impressive, huh? Of course, that’s why they went.

After all, this Jesus seemed different from most of the influential leaders of their day. He seemed like a winner they could get behind. Perhaps they hoped for an upper management position. But what do I know? I wasn’t there.

Thinking in terms of the culture today, Jesus might have hordes of people in line around four city blocks hoping to be chosen, as if it was a shot at some reality TV show! Okay, maybe not.

Anyway, we know the disciple’s faith and trust in Jesus waxed and waned throughout his ministry. Except for Judas Iscariot, who checked out early, it wasn’t until after the resurrection that their passion caught fire, a passion that would take them to their own deaths. At that point, they were beyond holding out for a life story that would make them famous.

(Oops…wrong disciples!)

Anyway, think of the difference between the guys who scattered when their fear got the best of them and those same guys who became faithful and fearless after Jesus’ resurrection, despite their continued limping along an uncertain path. That should give us all hope. Why? Because if we are honest with ourselves, we too are misfits, doubters, seekers of power and acclaim, liars, and cowards.

Well, that makes me eager for Judgment Day. How about you? As for my sorry imperfect self, I want to run and hide! My imperfect body makes me cranky. My imperfect faith makes me scared to die. My imperfect emotions sometimes look like fireworks on the 4Th of July. My imperfect mind likes to stay awake at night, reminding me of what an idiot I am – or what a moron someone else is.

Brene’ Brown, in her excellent book, “The Gifts of Imperfection“, tells us it’s okay. How is that possible? She says, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness….I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brown tells us that the gifts of imperfection are courage, compassion, and connection.

When we dare to own our own worthiness, then, and only then, can we reach out to others and use our God-given gifts to make a difference in this broken world we live in. The darkness needs your light. The doubts and fears of your neighbor or coworker need your courage. The hopelessness of the world around you needs to know the reason for your hope (1 Peter 3:15).

So, there’s your challenge and your call to use the gifts God has given you to take into this messy world! Now is not the time to question or doubt that you are called to serve, that you have anything to offer, that you can make a difference.

It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. You don’t have to cure cancer or win a Nobel Prize (although you can if you’re so inclined). Just give your lonely widowed neighbor five stinking minutes of your precious time! Smile at a teenager you don’t know and act like you’re not afraid they’ll mug you. Take flowers to that crotchety grocery clerk you’re constantly judging.

NOW is the time to come out of hiding, shake off that fear, and jump!

Photo by Renan Lima

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