I have read with interest much of the commentary surrounding President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the prayer at his inauguration on January 20, 2017. Paula White, a Pentecostal “prosperity preacher,” does have some unorthodox beliefs and is twice divorced. She admits that she has made some poor decisions in life and has been less than perfect in her Christian witness. One Christian said, “I would rather hear a Hindu pray than Paula White.”
This all reminds me of something I read in Philip Gulley’s excellent novel called JUST SHY OF HARMONY. This book is about a pastor of a small-town Quaker congregation. One of the members of the church is diagnosed with terminal leukemia and the pastor and the congregation pray earnestly for her healing. However, healing does not come and she only gets worse.
Some of the church members are avid followers of a greasy televangelist named Johnny LaCosta. He is the kind of guy who pretends to be a vessel of healing if enough seed money is sown into his ministry. So, these church members collect an offering and send it to Johnny LaCosta requesting that he pray for their sick friend.
On television a week or so later, televangelist Johnny LaCosta prays for the woman and pronounces her healed of her leukemia. And, sure enough, the leukemia disappears and the woman recovers completely. When the Quaker pastor hears that the woman is indeed healed he becomes angry and refuses to acknowledge that Johnny LaCosta had anything to do with it. God would never work through such a fraud.
A member of the congregation loved her pastor enough to challenge his attitude. “You seem annoyed that she was healed,” she said to her pastor. “What would be wrong with God using Johnny LaCosta to heal Sally?” Sam, the Quaker minister sputtered, “First, God didn’t use Johnny LaCosta to heal Sally. God doesn’t use people like that.” “I think God can use anyone,” answered Miriam his church member.
Pastor Sam slowly had to confess that maybe God had actually done something miraculous through such an unworthy vessel as Johnny LaCosta. “I still think he is a Bozo,” Pastor Sam declared. “So do I,” said Miriam, “but God apparently uses Bozos too.”
Spiritual arrogance is such an ugly thing. When we think we are usable and others aren’t, we show that we still don’t understand God’s amazing grace. One day, hopefully, we will awaken to the fact that God specializes in writing extraordinary stories about very ordinary and sometimes odd, unworthy, people like Paula White. And me.
So it might be a good thing to go easy on all your Bozos. God just might do something through them to remind you that without Christ, you too don’t have a prayer.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)
May we walk humbly with our Lord in 2017