Too often when we see the flaws and failings—the “clay feet”—of past generations, we focus on the failure. True, mistakes have consequences. Whether because of willful disobedience, lack of foresight, or human incompleteness, none of us (not even our greatest heroes in the faith) will be perfect.
As we look back at the clay feet that seem to somehow mar our pristine image of some of those who came before us, we would be wise to remember that we affirm the truth in confession of sin (1 John 1:9). God’s people are flawed yet faithful. God uses us despite our failings and, at times, because of them. It is through our weakness that God’s power is most evident.
To echo Paul, we do not wish to continue sinning so that grace may abound. Instead, we want to ensure that, in looking back on the lives of women and men who, like us, are trying to be faithful while continuing in a state of sin, we see God at work. Clay feet are reminders that we do not follow Apollos or Cephas or Paul, but Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10–17).
A prayer for a flawed people
Lord, may we be gracious people. Let us be a body of people that does not demonize those who have been less-than faithful, nor cover up the sins of others thinking we might somehow protect you … or ourselves. We know you need no protection. We know that your church will endure. Give us hearts to trust you enough to confess our sins even as we stand firm in the gospel, refusing to compromise our witness. We are thankful that you work through the faithful and flawed. Amen.
“A Giant with Clay Feet” first appeared in Worthwhile Theology Magazine. Request a free digital copy.
JAMES SPENCER, PHD is Vice President and COO of the D.L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and author of Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind. He also writes a regular blog at nextgenchristians.com.
Photo credit: Magda Ehlers