If you’re very familiar with the Bible, then you likely have heard of “The Faith Chapter,” Hebrews 11. This “Hall of Faith” is full of examples of men and women of God who have lived faith-filled lives. Spanning forty verses, the chapter is an inspiring passage of scripture known and beloved by believers around the world.
As I read about these men and women and the remarkable lives they led, I tend to put them on a bit of a pedestal. I see these individuals as “heroes of the faith,” who through their faith and obedience to God accomplished extraordinary things far and above anything I have ever done or hope to do.
We read about their stories in the Old Testament and teach them to our children. We admire their lives and try to live by their wisdom. We think wistfully of the miracles they experienced and the works God used them for and we wish our lives were a little more like theirs.
Yesterday in church, in continuation of a sermon series through the book of Judges, our pastor taught on the story of Samson (Judges 14-15). Most of us – churched or not – have heard of Samson. We know about Samson’s strength and Delilah’s treachery, and how by his final act of incredible strength he brought down a giant building on top of his head, sacrificing himself while killing thousands of Israel’s enemies (Judges 16).
If that’s all you know of Samson, he sounds like an incredible hero and martyr. It makes sense that his name appears in the Hall of Faith. Well, there’s more to his story; there’s more that happens before Samson ever meets the beautiful and deceitful Delilah who helps bring about his martyrdom.
Samson was anything but perfect. He was impulsive and hotheaded. He ignored his parents’ wisdom and recklessly pursued women he should have stayed away from. He had a mighty temper and super-human strength to go with it. When things didn’t go the way he wanted, he reacted with anger and violence. Once, when he was angry that the answer to a riddle he had told had been discovered, Samson struck down thirty men and took their clothes. And that’s just one story.
And yet God used him.
Even with all of Samson’s imperfections and character flaws, violent history and reckless pursuits, God used him.
God also used people like Jacob the deceiver, Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, and David the adulterer. Each of these names is found in Hebrews chapter 11 – the Hall of Faith. Each of these people is counted among the great heroes of the Bible who lived by faith.
Faithful, but not flawless.
Faithful, but not perfect. Faithful, but more like you and I than we might have thought.
God can use the most hopeless cases and the worst mess-ups. God can use ordinary, imperfect people like you and I. It doesn’t matter what mistakes we’ve made or what character flaws we can’t seem to shake. God can use us. All it takes is faith.