The scars are lighthouses.


We come from a faith where the faults aren’t hidden.

That is the first thing that struck me about the beginning of the book of Matthew.

I usually skip the lineage lines. Or lines of lineage. That sounds like a bit of a tongue twister. Why do I skip them? Because I’m not a very good Christian.

But in Matthew, we see the line of Christ. The two things that stick out are the prostitute and the adultery.

In modern culture we tend to rewrite the histories of our heroes. We brush by their mistakes, amplify the triumph and hide the scars. We manufacture bright, shiny heroes. But the Bible doesn’t.

Rahab is not skipped over. There she is loud and present. The hooker. But as dramatic as that is, it’s the adultery that seems to most boldly fly in the face of our desire for mistake free lives.

When it comes to Solomon, this is how verse 6 in Matthew 1 could have read:

“David was the father of Solomon.” Done and done. Easy verse, simple idea. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Instead, the verse does the unexpected and says, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” They don’t even say “Bathsheba.” The verse makes a point of saying, this kid was born from someone else’s wife. Brutal.

And then we look at our own lives and think we need to cover up the lineage of mistakes we’ve made. We edit. We cut out. We rewrite our histories.


Roll your sleeves back up.

Stop hiding.

The scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed to the same rocks you hit.

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  1. says

    I am speaking about my scars in my blog. I hope that someone will identify with them, even thought they are self inflicted. I struggled with drugs and the ruin of my military career. Maybe someone will be impacted by my message and will know that they are not alone. God can use our mess for something good. Click on my name if you are interested in my scars. Thanks Jon!

  2. Margo says

    This is one lineage I never skipped over. Rahab and Uriah’s wife step boldly from the page. It gives me comfort to know that these “less than perfect” women are part of the lineage of Jesus Christ:)

  3. Garrett says

    Phenomenal post. Powerful.

    “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4 (ESV)

  4. Megan says

    it may seem odd but lately i’I’ve been looking at Rahab and saying if God can except her because she hid some spies he must be able to use someone as untalented as me for his eventual glory. thanks Jon for what you do i really appreciate it.

  5. says

    Good stuff, Jon. I think we often don’t realize our junk will guide others when we’re going through the junk, but it seems more obvious afterwards. A few years ago, my wife went through some significant mental health challenges. It sucked for her and for our whole family. Honestly, it was hard to see how it might be used for others while we were going through it. Since then, we’ve seen how our circumstances have helped others – to handle the details of the situation and to have HOPE in spite of desperate circumstances.

    • says

      You certainly went through a hard time, but because of the love you feel for your wife, you were her “rock” and you are to be applauded for being the support for others going through similar trials. God bless you.

    • Kelly says

      Hey Jon Stolpe! (and Jon Acuff) Thanks for sharing. We have had some of those similar challenges in our circles. Personally, I can understand better how to show more grace and mercy to those who suffer with mental health. Very challenging circumstances! I’m glad you are seeing where God can use this experience.

  6. says

    When people ask me what I’m doing now and I tell them I’m preaching using photography they might say aren’t you the guy who did such and such in college? My faith allows me to say yes that was me, but let me tell you about what God has done in my life since then.
    Good post! Looking forward to seeing you at kairos next week Jon!

  7. says

    I think you forgot the one women in there with the most personal scars – Tamar. She was married off to Judah’s oldest son. God struck him dead because he was so evil. Then Judah married her off to his second son. He used the withdraw method during sex and refused to give Tamar a child (which was the ultimate sin back then). God struck him dead immediately. According to God’s law, Judah was supposed to give Tamar his third son, but he refused to do it. So Tamar dressed up like a prostitute to trick Judah into giving her a child. He took the bait and slept with his daughter-in-law and got her pregnant. He tried to kill her when he found out but ended up not doing it. So she never married again but had twins by Judah, her father-in-law. Now if that person doesn’t have scars, then I don’t’ know who does.

  8. Andy McCorkle says

    I am a youth pastor, and I have been preparing to share my testimony during youth tonight. All week, there has been a fear about sharing some of the “worse” parts about my past because these students don’t know that about me and it may cause them to see me differently. Thanks, Jon, for reminding me (through Scripture) that my past may help one of the students avoid the “rocks” that could come down the road.

    • says

      Just be careful. I have heard youth leaders share too much (in my opinion) or glamorize something bad. My sister once heard a youth pastor share something, and her takeaway from it was that sex outside of marriage is totally ok. You really never know what the takeaway will be when you’re talking to a 15 year old! Please be prayerful. Please make sure the Holy Spirit is prompting you. You can share a testimony without lots of details when it comes to youth.

      • Moriah says

        Thanks for saying that. Sometimes, in high school, I got the impression that people’s sins were NECESSARY for them to come to Christ. Sometimes I even felt like I wasn’t BAD enough. Also, hearing about “so-and-so”, who was into drugs, and “whatsherface”, who slept around and got pregnant and stuff made it easier for me to rationalize my own sins, ’cause at least I wasn’t THAT bad.

    • says

      Share it!! Jesus didn’t hold anything back…true He never sinned, but I believe in transparency…I wish my youth leaders had shared what they struggled with or still struggled with at the time when I was in youth group! I personally will be praying for you tonight.

  9. says

    I wrote about this theme today. We have to live our lives out loud so that even the things that are messy are shared as much as the things that are “right” in our lives. Otherwise we discount God’s grace and goodness. We lose our saltiness. I even referenced #JesusJuke.

    Great minds Jon.

    Thanks for sharing all of your journey with us. You have no idea the impact your transparency has had on me.

  10. says

    Thank you for writing this. As someone who has struggled with self harm in the past and recently, I sometimes become ashamed, even afraid, of my scars. Even though my scars are mostly fading away, I know where they are and I get a feeling everyone else can see them.

    This just reminded me that I never have to be afraid or ashamed of my scars or my past because what if someone sees, hears, or finds out what I’ve been through? It could help someone else get the help I did at Mercy Ministries.

    Thank you Jon Acuff.

  11. says

    Thank you so much for posting such encouragement! I needed to hear this today. I have been blogging the last year about my affair..and sometimes I let the lies of Satan into my head telling me that I am wasting my time or that nobody cares. I pray that my scars are a lighthouse for others, and that God is the light through my words! Thank you again!

  12. Tracy D says

    Now that my daughter is a young lady, I’ve been using some of the mistakes of my past to help direct her in her future….and also so her that no, mom isn’t exactly perfect.


  13. says

    A lighthouse…I guess so. I am all about sharing in the right circumstances. I am not so sure it keeps people from heading down the same path, though. I had a close friend warn me about bad choices…because she made them She shared her hurt and the consequences, and I ended up doing the same thing! I am not trying to be a jerk about this concept…I just genuinely wonder how much sharing actually prevents someone from acquiring the same scars.

    • says

      Thought provoking comment, Chrissy. I guess it’s hard to determine how much our sharing prevents others from making the same mistakes. We might be surprised one day though to discover how much it did help. We are just called to salt and light to others. I also like how our scars are lighthouses of hope AFTER someone else hits the same rocks we hit. We can then encourage them that it’s going to be okay and to not give up.

      • says

        I agree about the after. I feel very strong now about the ability to help someone who has been down the same road. I just wish I could PREVENT people from going down the same road. I really think people spill their guts thinking it’s going to keep someone from doing the same thing. I guess I just am of the might set that it doesn’t work out that way unfortunately.

  14. says

    So good, Jon. Seems like many of us have recently written about this. Yesterday, I wrote about the beauty of our stories (with all their blemishes) helping others. I guess it’s hard not to think about that beauty, especially this time of year when the ultimate redeemer showed up for us! I never get tired of hearing how pain and suffering and wrong turns are redeemed and used for good!

  15. Andy says

    “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”

    Had been could it be that she was a widow?

    Otherwise the overall point of the post is excellent.

    • Samantha says

      She was a widow because David had Uriah killed. Bathsheba was pregnant with David’s child. God can use anyone…even a murderer & adulterer.

  16. Becky says

    Thanks, Jon. I needed this today. I was just talking to a friend how I was tired of trying to be perfect in order to win everyone’s approval. It’s as though I know Jesus doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but everyone else does. Sometimes I feel the people in church are easier to forgive the “big sins” with giant acts of repentance than the little mistakes we make. I want to be a person who offers that grace all over the place.

    So how exactly do we shine in these lighthouses? It’s not as though we want to wear our sins on our foreheads.

  17. says

    I skip lineages also because I’m a bad Christian and utterly horrible at pronunciation! I blame my lineage on my poor pronunciation cause that’s I roll. And, I blame Eve for my rolling as I roll because I’m a bad Christian.

    Any hoo…

    The post rocks. I am so glad I didn’t skip over this post. You have such an incredible blend of humor, rich depth of faith and a pure talent straight from God to deliver both in such a way as to be heard. My heard heart thanks you, bro.

  18. says

    I love sharing my testimony for exactly this reason.
    Sometimes it feels vulnerable, but i always remember that if i wear it proudly, it can help the mis-steps of another.

  19. says

    “The scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed to the same rocks you hit.”

    This is so true, and you’re right that we usually skip over those genealogies. That is precisely why so many of us try to hide our scars. We don’t see how God has used scars in the past to bring something wonderful, and we don’t realize that He can use our scars for something wonderful as well.

    I have my own self-inflicted scars as well. I’ve used my addiction to pornography in a limited way to counsel my sons, but I’ve been cautioned to be careful where I share that fact – “Some people just aren’t comfortable hearing that.” I suppose there’s some value in that kind of discretion, but I see the need to do more. Thanks, Jon, for this post to remind me how needed it is.

  20. Ally M says

    God spoke to me last year at a women ‘s retreat, about being transparent. It is seriously difficult , even in, or especially in church . My lineage is fraught with disasters. But slowly the Light is beginning to shine through the cracks. I hope all who read your comments consider their cracks for a few days.

  21. Jennifer says

    I know all about these scars and I’m getting to the place now where I can share them more openly. I’ve always shared privately but now through the freedom I’ve experience in Christ, I’m able to roll my sleeves up and wear them, knowing the Lord used them to mold and make me in His image.

  22. Lois Pepple says

    Thank you for sharing this post. This is all about redemption, one of the most beautiful and meaningful aspects of the Christian life. None of us is perfect. Thank God for that, or none of us could become those lighthouses for others. Our Heavenly Father has a purpose for our whole lives, even those ugly scars.

  23. Kari says

    My story is rough, gruesome, and painful. I know it’s impacted others, but I’ve never thought of i as a light house.

  24. Dan Gurbal says

    It’s not the cuts and scars we avoid, it’s the healing that shines forth to others, healing that comes inspite of the mistakes that we think are unforgivable.

  25. Julie says

    This message is SO needed in today’s perfectly put together churches full of people who look like they just walked out of magazine photo shoots. The truly broken have a hard time fitting into all that perfection! Transparency is preached, but only the cleaned up version of it is accepted. Thank you.

  26. says

    This reminds me of the most philosophically profound moment in Star Trek (yeah, I know, it sounds geeky to bring up Star Trek, but you can’t stop me, so there). It was in the worst Star Trek movie, which we all know was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. There was a character who was building a cult because he had the power to psychically take away peoples’ emotional pain. Everyone he ran into was grateful for this and joined his cult, until he ran into Kirk (because Kirk is The Man).

    Kirk stopped him, and said “I need my pain”. Kirk, unlike every character before him, realized that his pain is what makes him who he is.

  27. says

    Ya. You’re right.

    And yet for some of us, shame is that voice whispering in our ear, “Cover up.”

    And even sadder still, there are Christians (even leaders) saying the same thing. We wouldn’t want to “muddy” the name of Christ. Or the name of our church. Or ministry.

    The problem is when we cover our flaws we also take the spotlight off of grace. If we share our flaws, along with everything else, we’re saying “Look at the beautiful grace of God in my life.”

    Good stuff, Jon.

  28. says

    It’s funny that I stumbled upon this. I shared my scars, I showed my imperfections, I showed my lack of faith and I was hung. By the church no less. By leadership not once,twice but three times. Same channel 3 different leaders. Clearly I must have done something wrong.. I was told to stop talking about my depression.. Wow never did I think that would have come from a body of believers that I thought I could be raw with. It’s been a year , I confronted my anger towards them asked why? Answer in short was “sorry , we messed up but we’ve fixed all those things now..we don’t get mental illness, let’s pray.” Was it me? Or did I miss something… I caution Christians if they are going to be real , and u are going to show your scars, be ready for judgement, be ready for stones from friends and be ready to live in that stigma from who you choose to share with.

  29. Mary says

    Just wanted to share how import this quote is to me. My husband and I are beginning a marriage group at our church. We felt led to do this, even though we both have been through divorce and were somewhat apprehensive about starting a marriage group considering our past failures. This quote says it all. The scars we have will be a lighthouse to help keep others from going down the painful road we have traveled. When I saw this, I knew in my spirit that God was giving us confirmation that we were to pursue leading a marriage group. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and powerful insight,


  1. […] Jon Acuff, one of my favorite bloggers for when I’ve got sixty seconds or less, has had some absolutely brilliant content on his blog, Stuff Christians Like, this week. I’ve laughed. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried. And I’ve had to stop and soak this one in. Because, as good as he is at good clean fun, he is definitely able to make this girl think. Take a minute to read his thoughts on the lineage of Jesus. […]

  2. […] There are so many important lessons we can learn by making mistakes. The biggest one being- God is always right. If we listened to God in the first place we would not have to make mistakes, but sometimes we are a little slow to learn. Remember your mistakes only to remember the lessons they taught you. You can not change the past, but you can learn from it. You can thank God every day that you have the power to never repeat those mistakes. You can thank God that He has the power to forgive. You can help others to not make the same mistakes that you did.  One of my favorite quotes is by Jon Acuff, […]

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