What kind of team captain would choose us first?

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

Perhaps there really are some folks in this world who are almost completely unacquainted with self-doubt. I’m thinking of three possible types of folks.

The first are “successful” jerks: Donald Trump types seriously in need of the humility and mercy that comes only through the blessing of some real failure.

The second are the completely insane. Self-doubt? Are you kidding? They’d pass a lie detector test as they tell you in all sincerity, “I am Jesus Christ.”

The third type is largely theoretical. I’ve known a few, I think. They are genuinely and amazingly emotionally and spiritually healthy. Give me time and I’m sure I’ll think of some.

Most folks fall into none of these groups. We’d like to be in third, but we’re afraid that too much contact with the first will soon push us into the second. Meanwhile, we are well acquainted with self-doubt and easy prey for the few who don’t seem to have any but are willing nonetheless to give a bunch away.

My theory is that this starts in elementary school on the day your class chooses team captains for games. They choose the two who get chosen first for everything, and you get to stand in line facing the two who’ve already won no matter what else happens, sweat trickling down your back, silently praying not to be “chosen” dead last.

I could be wrong about that. (Self-doubt, see?)

Actually, the right kind and amount of self-doubt can be good for us, particularly if it leads us to trust God rather than ourselves. But too often it leads us to doubt not only ourselves but the word of the God who says he loves us completely and unconditionally.

But it’s so hard to believe.

Then we read Bible passages such as Luke 13:23 where someone asks Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” And Jesus answers, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many … will try to enter and not be able to.”

And sweat starts trickling down our backs. And we’re back in that pathetic line, feeling so small, so frightened, hoping to be among the few, the chosen, and all of our deep doubts rise to the surface yet again, and we’re sadly sure we won’t be.

I’m so thankful for better Bible students than me. My friend Edward Fudge helped me so much by reminding me of the context of Jesus’ words. The “few” are the “relatively small number of Jesus’ opponents” who will actually lower themselves to trust him for salvation instead of trusting their “group,” their law-keeping, themselves. Then, and now, few of those folks will trust him.

Actually, “the Bible emphasizes from Genesis (15:5; 22:17-18) to Revelation (7:9) God’s intent to redeem a host of men and women from all nations so numerous they cannot even be counted.”

What kind of team captain would choose us first?

God would. He did. He does.