I often ask myself as I come upon 12 years of being ordained, April 23rd, 2009 I was ordained a deacon in Orchard Lake, Michigan (the ordination video is available on this page under videos - very powerful video so watch it!) why are so many people drawn to me: a weak, flawed vessel? It's because I'm not ashamed of my past and I share this openly. I am not ashamed of all I have been through and I live my life announcing the Good News that God loves me just as broken and as flawed as I am and this same God loves you too with all your baggage! People are drawn to me because I don't pretend to be some perfect vessel and when they see that I acknowledge my imperfections and weaknesses and still lead a life of dedication to God: people can say: well, I can do that too! Stop with the pretending. When the Father in the Prodigal Son story ran to greet His wayward son who was returning from a life of dissipation - where he spent all his inheritance on prostitutes - we have to remember that this was 2,000 years ago, when men wore long robes that covered their entire body (much like men do today in Arab nations). How can you run with a long robe? You have to lift it up exposing your skin, exposing your legs. This was unheard of in that culture as you would never reveal your skin to others; it was extreme shame to show your sin. Yet this Father has no shame when it comes to welcoming his son back. Your Heavenly Father also has no shame in welcoming you back, embracing you, kissing you, and loving you as you are. If your Father in heaven has no shame in how He loves you and in how He welcomes you as you are; why should you have any shame in being His child with all your baggage? Have no shame!
So often people come and say: Who? Me? You have to be kidding! With all my flaws, my past, as weak as I am and you are telling me that God wants me? Yes! God wants you as you are and God is not ashamed of you as you are but loves you and accepts you and desires you as you are and the Prodigal Son Gospel illustrates that; and so since the God of the universe is not ashamed of you, why are you? Stop it! There is no shame to be a flawed child of God. THE WEAK WILL SHAME THE WISE, the Bible declares. The wiser you think you are, the bigger the fool you are, for at the end all we know is that we know nothing!
God wants you, the fractured and imperfect vessel that you are that is why He runs after you and to you.
Let's recall biblical characters such as King David. God chose him. Yet, like you, David had his failures and his times of disgrace. He was known for his immorality in the forms of adultery, conspiracy, murder and concealment of the facts. Even so, God forgave David, as He always forgives those who are repentant, and permitted him to continue as Israel’s greatest leader of all times. As flawed as David was, God had no shame in running after David and God has no shame in running after you; the flawed you!
Moses, like you, overwhelmed with his job and his life and all that was dealt to him on the plate of life, overstepped his bounds and crossed the line, just like you do over and over again because of your sinful and flawed and imperfect nature. Moses, through a moment of anger, slew the life of a fellow human being and then ran to hide from his crime. Yet, God saw him fit, as God sees you fit, to call him forth as a powerful deliverer of his own people, Israel. Even during that journey from Egypt to Canaan, along with those he was leading, Moses was disobedient to a gracious God and still our God never dumped him as our God no matter how disappointed He may be because of your disobedience and sinfulness will never dump you. Never. God ran after Moses and God runs after you!
Saul, spent his life persecuting the early church; sometimes even leading to stoning to death those who called themselves followers of the Christ. But once blinded by the light of the Christ on the road to Damascus and a definite change of heart, Saul became Paul, one of the greatest apostles of all times. Did Saul pursue God? Did Saul run after God? No! Just like God ran after Saul and changed Saul into Paul, he runs after you and the changes the old you into the new, born again redeemed YOU, for it is not you who chose God but God who chooses you: the flawed YOU.
Mary Magdalene, though her life apparently started out on the wrong foot, still became one of the most prominent disciples of Jesus. She was so thankful for his life-giving and life-changing teachings, that she relinquished her past and became a new person in and through him. His unconditional acceptance changed her. She, a woman (remember women had no rights in those days, they were pure property) was privileged to be one of the first evangelists that early Easter morning after speaking to her rabboni - a term of endearment for rabbi indicating how close they were to each other and how much she loved Jesus. Her past did not disqualify her and neither does your past disqualify you. God ran after her and God runs after you.
The Bible says: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen.”
Yes God has always used worn, broken clay vessels for His honor and glory and still does. God has not changed, God still takes our imperfections and flaws and remakes us into useful earthen pots that contain the precious Gospel (Good News that God loves us as we are) of the Christ. He then grants you and me the fortitude to lift honorable praise and adoration to His Holy Name. The Good News today is that Jesus is alive and well and that Jesus wants to be your friend, no matter where you may have come from or what kind of life you may have lived, and that as you are He runs after you.
Remember, God is still using our seemingly foolish lives to discredit those who are pretentious and prideful. He has selected those who think of themselves as inadequate to amaze those who believe they are immovable and invincible. He is the God who lifts up the humble. He elects to use those the world often classifies as infamous and unlovable. And the best part of this whole Good News is that He has elected and chosen ME and YOU.
Father Adam Kotas