The Dirty Dozen

Perhaps you have watched the Dirty Dozen. If you haven’t the plot is fairly simple. During World War II an American officer is troubled by the number of American soldiers executed for their crimes. Every person is needed to win the war and death outside of combat appears to be a waste. For this reason he selects a group of inmates from death row to go on an essentially suicide mission behind enemy lines. These men must learn to work together and take orders. The method of dealing with them is unorthodox, but soon the rag-tag group becomes a decent fighting unit.

As Christians we are a lot like the Dirty Dozen. There is nothing in ourselves that can save us. In fact, before we can to Christ we were enemies of God. He saved us because He loves us and He created us in His image, nothing that we did. We did nothing to deserve his grace and much to not deserve it. This should check us when we are tempted to judge others. I think Christians should be the people that are most aware of their depravity and also the most aware of the goodness of God at work in their lives. We are a dirty group that Christ is forming and shaping into an effective force for him.

Interestingly Jesus surrounded himself with a dirty dozen when he was on earth. Most were uneducated Galilean fishermen. One passage that I think is funny is Matthew 16:5-12. Jesus warns them to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples are stupid enough to assume he was commenting about then forgetting to bring bread. First they miss an obvious metaphor and second they Jesus has just feed more then four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and not long ago more than five thousand with five loaves. Producing bread is not something they need to worry about and Jesus is quick to remind them of this. Peter probably shows this best of all. He seems to be one of those people that say whatever is on his mind, instead of thinking first. He mouth frequently gets him into trouble and if he does say something right it seems to be something he stubbles onto instead of a carefully thought out conclusion. Peter is still one of Jesus’ three closest friends. These disciples are the ones that spread the church after Jesus returns to heaven. It reminds me of a show called Baa Baa Black Sheep. Like the Dirty Dozen, Baa Baa Black Sheep chronicles the effort of an American pilot who gathers a squadron of flyers who were going to be locked up for various crimes and disobedience. He brings them together and trains them to become a flying force with a record number of kills.

This should cause us to do two things. First we should be mindful of our own dirtiness when we are tempted to evaluate someone too quickly. Remember what you once were before Christ and what this person could become. Grace will come much easier. In doing this you will become a better imitator of God. Second when we mess up it is helpful to remember that this is part of the process. Take responsibility, ask for forgiveness from God and the offended parties, make amends, and move on. Our character is better judged by how we respond to failure than whether we fail.

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