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Written by Tad R. Callister, author of America's Destiny.
God Works Through Imperfect Men
At some point, this key historical question must be addressed: “Was Columbus divinely inspired, or were his voyages nothing more than secular quests?” Columbus certainly had his weaknesses, but if God could use only perfect men to advance His work, He would be left empty-handed.
To illustrate, suppose I were to tell you these four historical facts about a New Testament character and nothing more: first, Jesus said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Second, the Lord reprimanded him as follows: “O thou of little faith” (Matthew 14:31). Third, in a fit of rage, this man cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10). And fourth, this man denied knowing the Savior on three occasions, even though he walked with Him daily (John 18:27). If that were all you knew or focused upon, would you deem this man a servant of God or a reprobate? A saint or a sinner? This man, of course, was Peter, Christ’s chief apostle. Would his imperfections cause you to reject or abandon Christianity? Or would you say that his imperfections were only a small part of “the total man? Would you put those events in context of his entire life so as not to lose proper perspective?
If we focus only upon Peter’s weaknesses, we will have missed the real man, his mark and his mission—the man who left his fishing nets to follow Jesus, who saw angels, who became a mighty preacher of righteousness, who healed the infirm and even raised the dead, and who gave his life for his testimony of Jesus Christ.
The same rationale applies to other historical figures. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made enormous contributions to the founding of this nation, yet they were slaveholders. Martin Luther King Jr. played a pivotal role in advancing racial equality, for which he should be commended, yet it is no secret he engaged in serious moral transgressions. Sometimes we are blinded by our political prejudices. We see only the good in those who agree with our philosophy of life and only the bad in those who have opposing views. But the world is not so tidy, not so compartmentalized.
To illustrate this point, I share an observation made by my wife, Kathy: “In the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, there is a majestic marble statue commonly referred to as Winged Victory. A Greek sculpture from the 2nd century BC, it is one of the most famous statues in the world. Towering at the top of a sweeping staircase near the entrance to the museum, it is breathtaking at first sight. Even though severely damaged—missing her head, arms, and feet—with her gracefully outstretched wings and robes, seemingly fluttering in the wind, she is stunningly beautiful.” We have a replica of that statue in our home. Imperfect as it may be, it is nonetheless one of the masterpieces of all time. How shortsighted and tragic it would be if people focused only on that which is missing and failed to see the glorious work of art which remains.
Similarly, there are some who focus only on the weaknesses in the life of Columbus, but if this is their prime focus and they fail to put those weaknesses in the context of his entire life, then they too will miss the real man, his mark, and his inspired mission. Fortunately, God uses imperfect men and women to advance His purposes. The critic sees only warts and blemishes. God sees the beauty and strengths, and then He uses them to further His cause. And so it was with Columbus.
To deny his essential and God-inspired role in events which ultimately made possible the birth and founding of the United States of America is to suffer from a severe case of historical myopia.
Excerpt From America's Destiny Tad R. Callister