November 13, 2019
In ancient Israel, every Jewish boy would learn the Torah in school. Specifically, they would memorize the Jewish religious writings starting at an early age until the rabbi teaching them decided they had reached their potential as students. At that time, they were sent off to work in whatever field their family had always worked in. Some students would be sent away early to work, while others would progress to the point that they were accepted as a disciple to a rabbi. This was sort of like earning your doctorate. Anyone who studied under a rabbi was guaranteed a prominent position and respect in any community in Israel, but very few boys reached that potential. Becoming a disciple to a rabbi involved memorizing an entire encyclopedia’s worth of material. If you understand this and read the accounts of Jesus calling his disciples, it adds a bit of an interesting perspective. Peter, James, and John were fishermen. These were guys who got sent out of school early because they couldn’t hack it as students. The same is true of all the rest of his disciples. Some, like Matthew, were not only rejects from education, but they took on jobs that were considered to be evil in the eyes of their neighbors. The thing that makes this interesting is that those 12 guys learned what Jesus taught them and then went on to change the world. The entire course of western civilization was impacted by the work of Jesus’ 12 students, who had been kicked out of religious school because they weren’t good enough. They spread Jesus’ teachings all over the world. Their backgrounds prompted some folks to make fun of them. Peter was mocked by religious leaders in Jerusalem because he wasn’t educated. Still, his writings have been studied by billions and his name survives to this day. The important idea behind this is that some folks assume that because they haven’t succeeded in the past, God cannot use them. Or because they lack education, they can’t learn. In reality, God took 12 working men and changed the world with them. They didn’t just jump into it. They spent several years preparing and learning to be ready to serve. They learned teachings and came to understand complicated ideas. They even messed up along the way, but God continued to use them for his work. The only thing they really needed was a calling and a willingness to go and do the work. I talk to folks all the time who assume that they cannot do things in service of God because they lack education or don’t know where to start. For years, I assumed I would never work as a pastor because I didn’t believe I could succeed in the educational requirements for pastoring. In the end, I chose to forge ahead and work hard because it was better to pursue God’s calling and fail than to do nothing. We find many examples in history of ordinary men doing great things because they were just willing to train and go. The first step is simply making the choice to take the first step.