In this current election cycle, as it has been in the past, there’s a lot of conversation about the pasts of the candidates. When you’re running for the office of President of The United States, you should expect that people will dig into your past, look at your voting record on certain issues believed to be critical, and even your past personal behavior to see what kind of character you have. While character and voting records are definitely things to consider when voting for someone for the supposed highest office in the land, standing firm on people’s past can be tricky proposition.
Now, I didn’t write this to tell anyone how to vote or what conspiracies they should be mindful of. I’m a preacher and I’m saved. That means that when I consider my past and where God has brought me from and what He has brought me to, I understand that we are often more than the sum of our pasts. When I see how we’re examining people based on past behavior, I can’t help but wonder, what if God disqualified me because of some decisions I made because of youth, ignorance (both willful and otherwise), and just plain ol’ rebellion? What if I wasn’t allowed to run for Jesus because in the past, I ran with the devil?
I’m reminded of Moses as I write this. When God chose him, he was a murderer and a fugitive. Even Moses thought he should’ve been disqualified, giving God every reason he could as to why God should choose someone else for this most important leadership position. But God was well aware of what Moses had done and he chose him anyway. God had to show Moses that he was more than his past decisions.
Recently after the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January of this year, there was murmuring about his indiscretions in Eagle, Colorado in 2003, almost 17 years before his death. In fact, it was just hours after the helicopter crash that people brought it up. Some on social media had held so tightly to his past, that they couldn’t even offer condolences to his family before they sought to remind all of what happened in 2003.
This compelled me to do two podcasts on redemption and retribution because I felt that we were confusing the two. By many accounts, whoever Kobe was in 2003 and no matter what anybody thinks he did or didn’t get away with almost 17 years ago, he was a far, far cry from that man at the time of his death. And because we believe so much in holding on to past shortcomings, I find it hard to believe that Kobe had another night like that and no one brought it to light. I’m not suggesting he was perfect for the rest of his days, but it was obvious he had changed.
I imagine what might have been had Kobe not been allowed to keep going, despite his past. It was clear that God had more for him to do. It was clear that he was more than just the poor choices he made in Colorado. And while some may think I’m defending what he was accused of, that’s not the case. I’m merely pointing out that some that have considered themselves better than Kobe was that night have committed atrocities in the sight of God and He still gave them the chance to change their lives for the better. If God won’t handcuff us to the past through an act of grace, who are we to deny people the opportunity to show that they’ve changed?
If all I ever care about is what you used to be, I may never fully come to realize what you are right now. If I’m solely stuck in where you were, I may never see how far God has brought you. And while it’s true that sometimes past behavior can predict future behaviors in our lives, I’ve listed two examples in this post alone that shows that there are exceptions to our rules when God gets involved.
The fact remains that God could easily do some fact finding in our lives. God could easily dig up some dirt on us and it would all be accurate. God could easily see what our voting record says when it was time choose between right or wrong, and He most definitely could have analyzed our character at any given moment and deemed us unfit to continue to run our race to make our calling and election sure. Instead, He chose grace. Instead, He sent a Savior.
In this climate of mud slinging and fact checking, let us remember that God has the goods on all of us. And yet, He’s allowed us to remain in the race. We haven’t been disqualified yet. We’re still in the running. In spite of our shortcomings and our pasts, we can still win this thing.