“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)
I spent an incredible weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia speaking at a Promise Keepers event and then preaching in the church of a dear friend. The hearts of the people were open and the response was stunning. As a result, I spent a lot of time interacting with people individually. What became increasingly clear was that our communities are populated with imperfect heroes. I met men who were leading businesses, serving in their churches, doing what they could to help others while giving their hearts to build their marriages and raise their kids. I met women who were devoted to prayer, seeking to love their husbands, sacrificing for their families and communities while investing their time and talents to honor Jesus. But all of them were imperfect. Some were stuggling with anger. Some were impatient with everyone they knew. Others were battling addictions and self-serving pursuits. Still others were ready to give up relationships because they just couldn’t seem to figure out how to make them work right. One young man I met was simply exhausted by the financial strain, the stress of a special needs child and the general unhappiness of his marriage because of the daily difficulty of life. As imperfect as they were, however, they showed up. They came to learn. They came to see if God had anything for them today to help them in the battle of life. They came humbly aware they were not adequate in themselves looking for a better way.
It reminds me of David in 2 Samuel 6. He had decided to go get the Ark of the Covenant and move it to its rightful place. He made all the correct arrangements and enlisted the right men. The ark was loaded on a cart and the path was chosen. To say the least, this was a good thing to do and it was done with pure motives.
Along the way, however, a problem spontaneously presented itself. Like the rest of us, David and his men are problem solvers. Our first instinct is to jump in with a solution and make the problem go away. It is a useful instinct but it is so strong in most of us men that it can override higher priorities. In this case, no one was supposed to touch the ark. The priests had very specific instructions on how to handle the ark and they did not include the hands of average people contacting it.
Well, in verse 6, “the oxen stumbled.” The ark wobbled and was perilously close to falling off the cart. Uzzah’s first instinct was to reach out to stabilize the ark. He was close to the problem. He saw the problem. He thought he had the means to solve the problem so he reached out and did what most men would have done, he fixed the problem! In this case, it was the wrong thing to do because there was a higher priority. It was costly for Uzzah as the Lord made an example of him that day. We know he was a hero because only men of valor and faithfulness would have been allowed to travel that close to the ark. He was just imperfect.
Intersestingly, David showed his own honest imperfection in response because “Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath . . .” (v. 8) Isn’t that interesting? David was angry with God and he said so.
I see this struggle most often when men wrestle with what it means to love their wives. We know we are supposed to listen to them and help them feel secure but our instinct is to fix problems. When they start talking, we think there must be an issue, a question or a siutation that needs our male input. The truth is we have a higher priority with our wives than solving problems. We are to remain curious about them and encourage them to be who God created them to be. (For more information see The Marriage Code)
I share all of this in hopes that our perspective in life will parallel Jesus’ willingness to interact with imperfect people. My prayer for you today is that you will discover how to be an imperfect hero.