In a world that requires skills and credentials I don’t have, I am an underachiever.
I am a loser.
In 2008, my academic career flamed out when my doctoral thesis failed and my teaching job ended.
The one-two punch broke me. It was the last straw in a series of failures which felt debilitating and insurmountable. But it also forced me to scour the scriptures for God’s perspective on people who are failed and broken—I call us “losers”—and here’s what I learned: God loves losers. In fact, he almost seems to prefer using losers in the work of his kingdom. And that’s good news because, at some point in life, every human will be a loser—one who experiences loss, failure, or brokenness due to unexpected circumstances or our own sin.
God definitely showed a preference for using losers when Jesus chose his disciples. These twelve men were filled with failures, faults, and sins. Yet Jesus prayed all night before choosing them (Luke 6:12-16), so I am sure his choices were led by God. In other words, Jesus picked losers on purpose, with God’s full guidance and approval. And he still does so today.
For all of these reasons, I say that the disciples were “losers like us.” In case you’re not convinced they were, I’ll list a few examples which will be expanded in this week’s writings…
-Do you ever find yourself in a “loser” position of apparent insignificance next to others? So did James the Less, Thaddaeus, and Andrew.
-Have you ever exhibited the “loser” trait of struggling to accept true Christ-followers who are your political opposites? So did Simon and Matthew.
-Are you ever bound up in “loser” negativity, lack of vision, or lack of belief? So were Philip, Nathanael, and Thomas.
-Do you ever show a sinful “loser” attitude by being petty and competitive with others, instead of serving them in love? So did James and John.
-Have you ever taken the “loser” route of turning against God in tough times? So did Peter and Judas Iscariot.
That’s all twelve of the disciples, and those are just some of the reasons I call them losers. Throughout this week, we’ll explore some of their above “loser” traits in more detail.
*Confusingly, several disciples have multiple names or share similar names, and several are related to each other. To keep them straight, look here.