One of the things which strikes me about God is He has a different value system than that of the world. In fact, it seems that God would rather use the common and even the despised people of society to make a difference in this world. Consider Moses. God doesn’t use Moses when he is a prince of Egypt, but when he is a nomadic shepherd. Certainly 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 our loud and clear at Christmas time. Consider the major characters in the Christmas story. Joseph is a poor and scandalize carpenter, Mary is a young and scandalized teenaged girl, the shepherds are a bunch of untrustworthy men. 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 chose 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 Jewish society, to people who were well respected? Wouldn’t more people have believed 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 to make it difficult for people to believe.
There are two reasons why I think God uses unlikely people:
1. God uses unlikely people to show His power
The apostle Paul wrote:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25; ESV)
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 Church, which continues to grow in number and influence in this world. When we truthfully consider Christianity, the Church 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 the world. As it loses influence here in the West it is exploding in the South and the East.
I hope this is an encouragement to all of us who wonder about our value in the world. Many times it doesn’t seem like we have any special talent, and it seems like we lack the resources to do something meaningful. We feel like we are on the sidelines of what God is doing. If God can use nobodies like Joseph, Mary, and the disciples to change the world, then He can use you and me to make a difference in the communities we live in.
- God uses unlikely people to humble arrogant
The apostle Paul also wrote:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, ESV)
Many people miss out on God because they are too proud to trust in Him. For some they are too proud to change their way of life and follow the example of Jesus. 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 wants people to trust Him, not just believe in 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 Him is through the experience learning about Him and obeying Him.
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 of the world to remind us that it isn’t our place in society 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 the world around us. God isn’t looking for people with lots of money, jaw dropping good looks, or 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.