In New Testament times, when rabbis chose disciples, they would go to the rabbinical schools and select the best of the best. One of the questions they would ask themselves was, “Could this man do greater things than me?”
When Rabbi Jesus chose his disciples, it appears that he went for the worst of the worst. Think about them. Whenever Peter opened his mouth, he put his foot in it. James and John were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder,” not because they had digestive problems, but almost certainly because they were bad-tempered. We’re told in the gospels they were ambitious. When Jesus had just been telling them about how he was going to die on the cross, James and John said, “Could you do us a favor? After you’ve done all your suffering, could we sit at your right and left and be really important people?” Jesus wasn’t impressed (Mark 10:35-40).
They were vengeful and violent. When some Samaritan villagers didn’t invite them in for a cup of tea, they suggested to Jesus that they should call down fire from heaven and have them burnt up (Luke 9:54). Jesus must have wondered whether they would ever understand.
One of the other disciples, Simon, was a Zealot. In other words, he was trying to violently overthrow the occupying Roman army. Today he could well be labeled a terrorist. Matthew collected taxes from his own people on behalf of the occupying Roman power and was regarded as a traitor to Israel. Thomas was every pastor’s nightmare. He was negative, wouldn’t believe anything anyone said and always seemed to see the cup as half empty.
Yet, Jesus chose them. He loved them. He was committed to them. For three years they misunderstood him and had wrong motives, but Jesus didn’t give up on them. In the end, his love changed them, and they changed the world.
If we want to look at some other characters in the Bible, think about this: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stutter, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a flirt, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah was too young, David was an adulterer and a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Job went bankrupt, Peter denied Jesus (three times!), the disciples fell asleep whilst they were praying, the Samaritan woman was divorced (and quite possibly a sex addict), Zacchaeus was too small, Paul murdered Christians, Timothy probably had an ulcer, and Lazarus was dead! If God can use a dead man, He can use us.
If it’s true that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness,” that has to mean God’s power is not made perfect in our strength. Why? Because when we know our weakness, we trust in his strength. That’s why God delights to use people who know they are weak. So you don’t need to wait until you are sorted, whole, mature and know your Bible back to front before God can use you. God can use you now. And he’ll sort you, heal you and make you whole on the way.