Call and Mission for the Imperfect 

I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in the truth that God calls and chooses the imperfect for a spectacular mission. It’s like He knows we’re going to mess up, so He picks someone who makes mistakes. And then, instead of getting mad at us for messing up, He uses our flaws to show His glory. Seriously, it’s so comforting to know that we’re not alone when we mess up—God is right there with us, picking us up and dusting us off. Thus, let’s learn more about how God calls and chooses the imperfect.

But for Grace, Mission Uncertain

You might have met people who have a unique mission and special encounter with the Lord and assume they are perfect. They might be the devout woman who is your next-door neighbor. They might also be the pastor of your Church who is living an exemplary spiritual life or your friend whose commitment to the Lord is captivating. Listening to their story is fascinating. Yet we notice that we may find one aspect or another of ourselves in their story. They aren’t perfect. They are weak as we all are, but for grace. 

It is more so when we realize how interior life and mission work. The closer one is to the Lord, the more evident one’s weaknesses become. Those God calls and chooses for great missions aren’t people who fall from the skies and are dotted with the perfection of the angels. They aren’t individuals who never indulged or used foul language. 

Neither are they people who never had the temptation to exaggerate, play pranks or deal with lustful and prideful passions. Nor are they people who never missed their prayers and always behaved in perfect integrity. On the contrary—in reality—some of them are a mess, just like many of us are. The mud of human brokenness mires them. Also, they smell the dirt of imperfections in their hearts. 

When our weaknesses become more evident to us, we know we are genuinely making headway in our spiritual life. It indicates proximity to the holy—for our weaknesses are apparent to us when God is closest. In that sense, our weaknesses should not discourage us. Instead, they should inspire us to appreciate God’s grace. We assume perfection because we aren’t close to it. But God’s friends aren’t the perfect. 

Scriptural Evidence in Support of God’s Mission Kinds of Call  

Scripture demonstrates that God’s best friends are sinners. The Lord came to call the sinner, not the righteous (Mk 2:17; Lk 5:32). In the same way, the Lord calls and chooses those in need of (and open to) his redeeming grace. Those who recognize that God is holy, and I am not. God is perfect; I am not perfect. 

This reality is evident in the biblical stories of the prophets’ calls to the mission of the apostles. Indeed, God calls and chooses people who realize it is by grace that we can have a relationship with God. From the call of Isaiah to the call of Peter and Paul, the story is consistent. 

Isaiah sees a glimpse of the Lord’s glory and holiness. It is in sharp contrast to his weaknesses, for the light of the glory of the Lord shines upon us, and we see our dark spots. Fully aware of his weaknesses, Isaiah cries: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Is 6:5). 

Same with the call of Simon, the fisherman. Simon (Peter), the one Jesus calls and chooses to be the leader of the Church, wasn’t perfect either. When he meets Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, he sees his unworthiness, falls at the feet of Jesus, and says: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8).

Saint Paul’s description of his call by the Lord Jesus in 1 Cor 15 equally acknowledges his weakness and the supremacy of God’s grace in his calling. “By the grace of God,” he says, “I am what I am” (1Cor 15:10). 

God Perfects the Called

There are numerous examples like these in the Bible. Hence, don’t suppose God can’t use you for the mission of blessing His people because of your weaknesses. On the contrary, you are the right candidate for God’s call. Always remember the saying, “God does not call the perfect but perfects the called.”

Therefore, we can live with hope and purpose as we understand that God chooses and commissions the sinner, the imperfect. We know our weaknesses do not hinder what God wants to do through us.

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Fr. Maurice Emelu

The Reverend Dr. Maurice Emelu is the Chair of a number of non-profit boards and a professor of digital media and communication at John Carroll University, United States. His research and practices focus on digital storytelling and design, media aesthetics and theo-aesthetics. Dr. Emelu lives where digital media technology meets culture, communication, philosophy, theology and society. He is the founder of Gratia Vobis Ministries, Inc.

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