2004-07-08_1925_1_fromjoewatsonIs it surprising that God chooses people who are foolish, weak, and worthless? Does the Lord know what He’s doing? Silly question, I know. Yes, He does, because in comparison to what He does by His incomparable power, everything we do is foolish, ineffective, insignificant, and worthless. The problem is that we tend to think otherwise. We work hard and plan. We build effective organizations. We have influence. We make our name known in order to increase that effectiveness and influence. We prove we’re making a difference in the world by virtue of our advertised metrics. However, our amazing God is not necessarily looking for hard work, human planning, impressive organizations and influence in order to accomplish His irrational and powerful purpose. He’s looking for people who are foolish, weak and despised. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have selected the least of all people, the Jews, as His chosen people and nation. He wouldn’t have come as a totally helpless baby to a poor couple in an obscure place called Bethlehem, in a little-known, weak nation that had been conquered by a very powerful one. He wouldn’t have chosen only twelve, very fallible men to establish His Church. He wouldn’t have departed into heaven after He rose from the dead and left “only” His Holy Spirit to help and guide His followers, with no organizational plan whatsoever.

Paul also wrote in First Corinthians 1:27–29 that He chooses what is low and despised in the world to “bring to nothing things that are.” Why would the Lord want to do that? Sounds a bit destructive. Or perhaps humiliating. Or both. In order that no one might boast in His presence, He must bring to nothing things that are. Will anything stop Him from this? No. Should that cause any person or entity that perceives themselves as “something” to be a bit nervous? Yes. I certainly am. Being “something” is my default response, it seems, concerning how I want to be perceived.

Lord, please be at work in me to challenge my worldly ideas.

Let’s continue to look at Scripture how God chooses the weak, low and unknown to accomplish His purposes. Who was Abraham, for example? Before the Lord called him, he was simply a man whom his father had taken with his family to a place called Haran, a city in Mesopotamia. Haran was a well-known trade route and the site of the temple for Sin, the moon god. Had Abram achieved any significance when the Lord called him? We’re not told. He was just a man living in a pagan city. Why did God choose him over any other man in Haran? We do not know. Actually, we do, because Paul tells us in First Corinthians 1:27–29: Abram was a man who was foolish and weak. Therefore, he must have been a man of no consequence. Did he ever become a man of significance? He interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah and rescued his nephew from capture. He had several children, and one son who is in the lineage of Christ. Then he died. But is that all? No. He was the only man to whom the Lord made great and precious promises concerning his offspring, even though he did not see the fulfillment of those promises. Nevertheless, there was nothing about him that has merited a mention in a book of ancient history. Not only that, He was a husband who betrayed his wife, jeopardizing her moral purity. In spite of this, God chose Him, and He is unquestionably lauded in Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments. Would Abraham be a leader in the Church today? No. Because of the way he treated his wife, his presence would stain the organizational name. However, God was not concerned about this stigma because He wasn’t trying to build an organization that might run the risk of blemishing its reputation. He was building a wonderful, broken, real-to-flesh-and-bone ancestry through whom He would save the people of the world.

Who was Joseph when he had the dream that changed everything? The second-to-youngest son in a family that would soon be near starvation due to famine.

Who was Moses when the Lord called to him by means of a burning bush? A shepherd in the wilderness—and a murderer who had fled from his own people.

Who was Gideon before the angel came and sat at the terebinth tree at Ophrah while he was threshing wheat in the winepress? We’re not told. He was just a man, doing a job to help him and his family stay alive.

What about the other judges, one of which was a woman, Deborah? What was it about them that would have launched them to heights of significance? We’re not told that they had any importance whatsoever.

Who was David when the Lord chose him to be king? The youngest son in the family, a child so inconsequential, so forgotten, that Jesse didn’t even bother to call him to the house when Samuel visited. David fits well into the description of whom God chooses. He was almost non-existent in the eyes of his father.

Who was Ruth? A Moabite widow living on the edge of starvation. Esther? She was an orphan who was picked to become an eventual concubine in the harem of the king of Persia.

Who was Jeremiah when the Lord called him to prophesy to Judah? A priest from Anathoth, a city about which almost nothing is known.

Who was Isaiah when the Lord called him to prophesy to Israel? We don’t know. He was a prophet, the son of Amoz.

Who was Hosea when the Lord called him to prophesy to Judah? We do not know. He is introduced as Hosea, son of Beeri.

We could also ask, who was John the Baptist? Who were Joseph and Mary? Who were the disciples of Jesus? Should we continue? The picture that is drawn for us should be clear, and there is little doubt that Paul was thinking of these people when he wrote to the Corinthians. The Lord chooses insignificant individuals through whom He accomplishes His hard-to-comprehend purposes.