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Every Biblical Hero Has a Past … and Why It Proves We Need to Re-Think Church

I grew up going to Vacation Bible School (VBS). And we all love VBS, don’t we? Skits. Crafts. Snacks. VBS introduces so many young people to the heroes of Christian faith. The heroes whose faith is far superior to mine.

And the picture VBS presents is so pretty. These heroes are painted as perfect school children who listen to their teacher. They never forget their homework. And they are always picked first for dodgeball on the playground.

But the VBS picture of flawless school children isn’t the full picture. Scripture presents another story behind the poster board and costumes. As I look at the great men and women in the Bible, they go from being people I would love to have as best friends to people I would be scared to sleep beside.

And this distinction is important because seeing the full picture of these heroes changes how we see the church. I am afraid the church has bought the VBS story lie. The lie that says everyone needs to behave and all the characters need to smile and look pretty.

Our churches need to be filled with the real biblical heroes. The ones with a past.

Oh, yes. Our churches should be filled with men and women like Noah, Rahab and Paul. But not the VBS version. … Our churches should be filled with the real version of these heroes. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the biblical heroes have a dark side. One that wouldn’t translate well to the VBS scene.

So I want to show you some VBS heroes that had a past, and I hope the full picture of these heroes causes you to re-think church.


This is the “go to” VBS story. Noah and his family are the ONLY faithful people left on earth. So God tells them to climb in an ark, along with two of every animal. Once onboard, God proceeds to exterminate every living thing from the face of the earth, leaving only Noah and his family. After the water subsides, Noah and his family exit the boat to start this mankind thing over.

And everyone lives happily ever after.

Not really. Soon after Noah’s family steps off the boat, Noah proceeds to … get drunk (Gen. 9:20-27). And Noah doesn’t get a little drunk. He gets so drunk he passes out. Naked. To top it off, when Noah wakes up he curses his son for trying to cover his nakedness.

“Now, wait a second Noah. You are supposed to be the faithful one. Could you not wait a few chapters before you get drunk and start cursing your son?”

Could you picture Noah standing before an eldership or board of church leaders to explain this incident? It probably wouldn’t go over well.


You would never want to be in a game of “one up” with Moses. His accomplishments are just better. He speaks with God “face-to-face” (Exodus 33:11). He delivers the Israelites from the hands of the most powerful ruler on the face of the earth, Pharaoh (Exodus 13-14). And he receives the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 34:28). Game, set and match.

Yeah, I want Moses on my team.

But there is another side of this VBS hero. Take, for example, the story in Exodus 2:11-15. Here we read that Moses kills a dude. You read that right. He murders another human. Then he tries to cover it up.

Not only would Moses be disqualified from church leadership, he would be disqualified from church membership. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have an opportunity for either because he would be in jail.

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Frank lives in Jackson, TN with his amazing wife and two boys. He loves black coffee and doing stuff outside like golf and running.