This reality comes our loud and clear at Christmas time. Think about the major characters of the Christmas story: Joseph who is a poor and scandalize carpenter, Mary who is a young and scandalized girl, Shepherds who are a bunch of untrustworthy characters. Only the Magi have credibility in society, but this diminishes in Jewish culture since these men were Gentiles. The most important event in the history of the world and God chooses people who are rejected and wouldn’t be believed by society!
Makes you wonder why doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it give Jesus more credibility if he had been born to the upper class of society to people who were well respected? Wouldn’t more people believe the message if the angels appeared to the Sanhedrin rather than to a bunch of no account shepherds? One could get the impression that God intentionally uses the least likely people make it difficult for people to believe.
God uses unlikely people to show His powerThe apostle Paul writes:
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? God has turned the wisdom of the world into nonsense, hasn't he? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know God, God decided through the nonsense of our preaching to save those who believe. 22 Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified. He is a stumbling block to Jews and nonsense to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom. 25 For God's nonsense is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25; ISV)
Paul tells us that God’s weakness (as if He had any) is stronger than man’s strength. In other words there is no situation in which we find ourselves in that we are stronger or smarter than God. There may people who think that if God really existed He would do this or that, but the reality is all they can do is speak from their limited experience. They have no clue of what God is doing and the wisdom and power He truly possess.
It is a testimony to God’s power that from such humble beginnings He established His kingdom that continues to grow in number and influence in this world. When we truthfully consider Christianity it shouldn’t even have gotten out of the first century, but here we are two thousand years later and the Church of Jesus Christ continues to grow in this world. As it loses influence here in the West it is exploding in the rest of the world.
I hope this is an encouragement to all of us who wonder about our value in the world. It doesn’t seem like we have any special talent and we lack the resources to really do something meaningful. We feel like we are on the sideline of what God is doing in this world. If God can use nobodies like Joseph, Mary, and the disciples to change the world than He can use and me to make a difference in the communities we live in.
God uses unlikely people to humble arrogantThe apostle Paul continues to write:
26 Brothers, think about your own calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is nonsense in the world to make the wise feel ashamed. God chose what is weak in the world to make the strong feel ashamed. 28 And God chose what is insignificant in the world, what is despised, what is nothing, in order to destroy what is something, 29 so that no human being may boast in God's presence. 30 It is because of him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who for us has become wisdom from God, as well as our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written, “The person who boasts must boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, ISV)
Many people miss out on God because they are too proud to trust in God. For some they are too proud to change their way of life and follow the example of Jesus on how we are to live. Other people are too proud of their wisdom and if God doesn’t do things their way then they are not going to believe in Him or trust Him.
Remember this: God isn’t interested in people believing in Him, but He is interested in people trusting Him. This is where many people, especially atheists, become confused. Yes, God could reveal Himself for all to believe (which will happen one day), but believing in Him doesn’t mean you will trust Him. The Bible is full of stories of people who believed but did not trust. God has decided that the best way for us to learn to trust is through the experience of discovering belief and living that belief.
The intelligent and well educated, just like the rich, will have trouble entering the kingdom of heaven because of their pride. God has chosen the simple and the unlikely people in this world to remind us that it isn’t our place in this world that matters, but whether or not we will trust Him in a world that denies His very existence.
It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done God can use us to make a difference in this world. God isn’t looking for people with lots of money, jaw dropping good looks, and lots of degrees hanging on the wall. He is looking for ordinary people willing to put their trust in Him. God loves using people just like you and me.
- Point to Ponder: God uses the unlikeliest people.
- Passage to Remember: 1 Corinthians 1:25
- Question to Consider: Are you willing to be used by God?