One of the things that strike me about God is that the value society places on people makes no difference to Him. In fact it seems that God would rather use very common, even the despised, people to make a difference in this world.
Consider the example of Moses. God didn’t use Moses when he was a prince of Egypt, but when he was a nomadic shepherd. God has used the rich and the powerful, but more often than not God has used the poor, sinful, and abused. God uses the unlikeliest people.
This reality comes out loud and clear at Christmas time. Think about the major characters of the Christmas story: Joseph was a poor and scandalize carpenter, Mary was a young and scandalized girl, and the shepherds were a bunch of untrustworthy characters. Only the Magi had credibility in society, but that credibility diminishes in Jewish culture since these men were Gentiles.
This is the most important event in the history of the world and God chose people who are social outcasts who wouldn’t be believed by society!
Why does God use unlikely people? Wouldn’t it give Jesus more credibility to be born 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? We could get the impression that God intentionally used the least likely people make it difficult for people to believe the news.
Here are two reasons why I believe God uses unlikely people:
1. God uses unlikely people to show His power
The apostle Paul writes:
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength (1 Corinthians 1:20-25; NLT).
Paul tells us that God at His weakest is stronger than man at his strongest. In other words there is no situation in which we find ourselves in that we will be 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 the humble beginnings of a manger in a stable that He established His kingdom. This is a Kingdom which continues to grow in number and influence throughout the world. When we truthfully consider the beginnings of Christianity we realize that it shouldn’t have grown outside of the first century, but here we are two thousand years later and the Church of Jesus Christ continues to grow in this world.
I hope this is an encouragement to all of us who wonder about our value in the world. We may not think we have any special talent, or that we lack the resources to do something meaningful for God’s Kingdom. Yet, if God can use nobodies like Joseph, Mary, and the disciples to change the world, than He can use you and me to make a difference in the communities we live in.
2. God uses unlikely people to humble arrogant people
The apostle Paul continued to write:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy* when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NLT)
Many people miss out on God because they are too proud to trust Him. For some they are too proud to change their way of life and obediently follow Jesus. Other people are proud of their wisdom and if God doesn’t do things their way then they are not going to surrender their lives to Him.
Remember this: God isn’t interested in people believing in Him, rather 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 trust Him. The Bible is full of stories of people who believed but who did not trust. God decided that the best way for us to learn to trust Him is through the experience of belief lived out in obedience.
The intelligent and well educated, just like the rich, will have trouble entering the Kingdom of Heaven because of their pride. God has chosen simple and ordinary people 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 for His Kingdom. God isn’t looking for people with lots of money, jaw dropping good looks, or with lots of degrees hanging on the wall. He is looking for ordinary people who are willing to put their trust in Him. God loves using people just like you and me.
Questions to Ponder:
- Who is an unlikely person God has used to make a difference in your life?
- Do you doubt that God can use a person like you?
- Why do you think God uses unlikely people?