If you watched any of the Super Bowl pregame yesterday, you likely saw an interview with Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. The interviewer did not shy away from the taboo tabloid question and hit Lewis directly, asking about the murder of two young men in Atlanta. It is a case with which Lewis was connected more than a decade ago When asked, Lewis responded in the following manner (words as remembered, not precisely quoted):
"Anyone who knows God at all knows God don't work like that. I mean, God don't use people for His glory who caught up in that kind of mess. He just don't."
The implication being, of course, that Ray Lewis has been used for God's glory and that this obviously disqualifies him from any serious wrongdoing or God would have chosen another man.
It made me cringe. It made me shudder. And I think it's the kind of statement that made a lot of questioning Christians and seeking hearts hang their heads.
Let me make this clear to both Mr. Lewis and to anyone who heard his words:
He couldn't be more wrong.
It is grossly inaccurate to say that God does not use sinners - even the worst or sinners - for His glory; the truth is that God has only used sinners for His glory.
Go ahead. Read His memoir. Check it out if you don't believe me. Every man, every woman, every Israelite, every foreigner, every king, every priest, every layman, every craftsman, every spy, every warrior, every body God ever used for His glory was a sinner. Prostitutes among them. Liars among them. Cheaters among them. Thieves among them. Even - yes, even - murderers among them.
God does not pick perfect men to reveal Himself. If He did, we would never see His glory. There are no perfect men to choose from.
God does not even necessarily pick good men to reveal Himself. There are maybe a handful of those here and there, but what does a good man demonstrate about grace? What does a good man demonstrate about forgiveness? What does a good man show for mercy? If we argue that we serve a gracious, forgiving, merciful God (among many other noble qualities) - then where in a good man does God show that glory?
No, it is in and through the sinners that God reveals Himself. He even declares as such in His word:
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:7-8
God demonstrates His love - His very nature - in His relationship with the sinner. Not for the righteous. Not even for the Good. No, He died for the fallen man.
For the man whose fallen shorts bound his ankles, God suspended Himself from the cross for the chance to clothe the man in righteousness. Then He looked to His side and promised, "Today, you will be with Me in paradise."
That is where God's glory lies. Not in the good man, but in the redeemed man. And no righteous man has ever been redeemed. Only the sinner. Even the worst of the worst.
You don't have to be a good man to tell God's story. You simply have to be a man. You have to be a man who doesn't pretend to be something else. You have to be a man dependent on God, a man who can humble yourself and show His grace. You have to commit yourself to telling God's glory with every bit of your life - your breastplate of righteousness and your fallen shorts.
Fallen shorts that can only be held up by a belt of Truth. The truth is: God has only ever used sinners for His glory.
Be a man. Be a sinner. Be God's. And He will use you for His glory.
He already is.