The story of Elisha sending the bears to attack the mocking group of young men is a very interesting story. It shows us a very human side to Elisha. Elisha shows that he is not a perfect hero. He lets his pride and emotions get the best of him. I might have too since I know what losing hair is like. When we look at the world, we see many leaders who make plenty of mistakes or try to do something deceptive. Even the Church is filled with people who do things that do not fit the character of God. These stories can make us wonder about God’s choices for leaders since it can seem like He keeps choosing people that do not make the best decisions when they are in their positions for a long period of time. It’s true that if you give a human long enough they will mess up and do something bad, but God has a plan to bring His people to greatness; He has a plan to transform our failures into a good and beautiful reality.
One thing that we have already affirmed from this story is that God does not choose perfect people. He only did that once and that was his one Son, Jesus. We cannot be an exactly like Jesus in that sense, at least not until we see the final resurrection. Humans are just prone to failure in this life. Even when we are doing very well in our lives we have a tendency to take a wrong turn. Ever since we rebelled against God in Genesis 3, we have been making messes, accidental and intentional. The story of the Bible and the story of human history proves the people are not the best candidates for God’s plans. If God wants to heal the world He created why choose the people that are fallen and rebelled against Him? Human sin makes it seem counterintuitive to choose us to be the heroes of God’s plan of redemption.
It would be easy to give up and say that being a hero of faith is hopeless. If we cannot win this battle, what’s the point of trying. God, however, wants us to see something different. When we fail, we rest on grace. God never abandoned Elisha on account of one mistake. Whether he realized it was a mistake or not, God still did amazing things for him. In our context, Christians have not figured out everything there is and can make some of the biggest blunders to date. Financial and sex scandals of some famous preachers prove this point over and over again. We cannot let that stop us from chasing what God has for us. Elisha might have had a self-esteem issue but there are many others who had issues too. Adam and Eve had trusting God’s authority, but they end up trusting Him anyway. David lusted, but he is still known as a man after God’s own heart. Peter denied Jesus and cut off a person’s ear, but he became a leader in the early Church and was never recorded to have hurt anyone physically after the Acts 2 event. Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was considered one of the twelve followers that were closest to Jesus. The movement of God is a movement that starts with a group of failures, but ends with God’s victory. Our relationship with Jesus drives us towards His vision and if we keep chasing a relationship with Him, we will experience that joy of victory with Him. It is a vision that will not fail, despite the character and virtue of those whom God chooses to be in it. With God we will see success in the journey He has laid out for us, even if we have been labeled failures or have made a mistake.
The even better news is that failure can be a teacher of success when God reveals it to us. God uses our failures to show us a better way, His way. We just have to be humble enough to hear Him. The movement of Jesus is not our creation. We were just adopted into it. So it takes a realization that this movement is bigger than me. To be a hero in this movement means to make our actions not about us. If we take seriously the Golden Rule of Jesus and love God and others more than ourselves, we will actually allow God to move us beyond failures. We do not have to be defined by failures, mistakes, chaos, destruction, or sin. God, through Jesus is giving us a new identity of hope, one that brings life, light, goodwill, and peace. To sum up, God loves us just as we are when we come to Him, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. Change is inevitable once we begin the journey.
And like every good story in literature, our life story of heroism in Christ will be filled with change, growth, love, hurt, etc. We will be shown how to live fully and we will not be disappointed when this life is over.