Nobody wants to be a lemon.
The Ford Pinto is the mother of all bad cars. A smack on the rear bumper could turn it into a fireball, which tragically happened for thousands of people. Knowing what they know now, consumers would never have climbed behind the wheel of that vehicle. Every car would have sat on the show room floor, unclaimed. Nobody would have been charmed by its new car smell or low price had they been aware of the problems that lurked within its design. You don’t knowingly pick a hand grenade to drive home. Your “foreknowledge” would prevent it.
Here’s an outrageous thought. God chose us according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:1-2). He knowingly got involved with a flawed product. This answers the interesting question about whether He knew what He was getting into. Of course He did, we say. He’s God. But sometimes this becomes less of a theological certainty and more of an emotional crisis as the Christian life plays out and our failures accumulate.
I recall sitting across the table from a Christian many years ago who sobbed uncontrollably in the wake of a steep moral failure. He basically disintegrated right there in front of me. Gone were the witty remarks. He slouched in a chair with shirttail partly out, his face reddened and wet with tears. The sheer despair of the moment was palpable. I remembered feeling embarrassed for him and then embarrassed for myself that I couldn’t help him. I lobbed a couple of comfort verses in his direction, but he wasn’t having it. He swatted them back as though returning a badminton serve.
We all admit no one’s perfect. We’ll even admit we aren’t. It just doesn’t dawn on us how imperfect we really are. In terms of automobiles, we’d each like to think we’re a Lexus SUV, a Porsche, an Aston Martin. Some of us wouldn’t mind being a pickup with gun rack and eight-track player. Yes, we might have a few scratches, but nothing that would cast serious aspersions on our awesomeness. Then situations play out in front of us over time. Temptations emerge. Setbacks strike. Sufferings intensely flare up and may remain for years, even decades. Our own responses might surprise us. It starts to become clear that ultimately, we’re a bunch of Pinto’s. A little pressure, a sudden blow, and we’re done.
Knowing all of this in advance, God chose us anyway.
Though not visible at first, our flaws are there, deeply embedded. Even without sins on our grid like murder, bank robbery, or glue sniffing, there’s plenty left that make us all a volatile package.
The propensity for depression (Like the type that makes you drink a gallon of milk and eat a whole peach pie because you figure all is lost)
The propensity for anxiety (The kind that makes you think unless you control your environment as Lord of the universe, all may be lost)
Addictions (Not only the illegal variety, but soft beds, coffee to swim in, junk food bonanzas, television coma, gaming to the point that personal hygiene is a nuisance, etc.)
Personality quirks (Basically any quality that will lose a job for you, get you into fist fights at family reunions, or earn you a place on everyone’s Do Not Call list).
Crankiness (as in, wanting to lay on the horn because the driver in front of you hasn’t noticed the light has been green a full tenth of a second)
When He got involved with you, did God really know He was getting a Pinto? Peter says He did. Foreknowledge means knowledge ahead of time, with no need of future disclosure. Peter himself was an excellent person to talk about this. In one of the most striking cases of self-delusion in the Bible, he argued with Jesus after being told he would betray Him—”Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Mt. 26:34).
Peter thought of himself as a Ferrari F-40, roaring up to the cross with His Lord. Eventually though, it didn’t take persecution to make Peter crash and burn—just the fear of it. Shocked and deeply disappointed, he went somewhere and cried. He wasn’t the high performance man of God he thought he was. But Jesus had known all along.
It didn’t change His mind.