2004-07-08_1925_1_fromjoewatson

This is the third and last installment in a series of articles in which we are endeavoring to consider the amazing Christian God and how He chooses those who are weak. His stunning choices are in direct contradistinction to how we think, which is that we should be strong, influential and “noticed” in order to get the big things done  and be “effective” in ministry.

In the previous article, we looked at a multitude biblical individuals who were total unknowns. We could also ask ourselves, after these men and women had been chosen, what power did they yield? Was it Moses’ power through which Israel was delivered from Egypt? How did he bring the plagues upon Egypt? Was it some technique he learned at a conference about plagues? How did he part the Red Sea? Did he finally discover the secret to wielding God’s power over water? How did Joshua defeat Jericho? Did he use time-tested siege techniques? How did Gideon defeat the Midianites? Great battle strategy? How did David defeat Goliath? In all of these instances, the Lord used powerless men and foolish strategies to bring down the strong and the exalted. God is exalted through using weak, insignificant people. Why? Paul has told us—so that no one may boast in God’s presence.

Is this how the Church comports itself today? Is this how we Christians think? I would contend that the Church has followed the culture and the base nature of man. This idea of choosing the weak comes from the mind of God, and these are not the kinds of people whom we would choose to get our work done, to move the vision along, and influence and change the world. These are not the individuals whom the Church would select to spread the Gospel and to represent Christ. Never. We tend to want just the opposite. We want “leadership material”—strong, attractive, and significant men and women to be our teachers and preachers. The Church thinks that powerful, talented people and their accompanying actions will advance the cause of the Gospel. According to God’s base line of weakness, however, we are in error. We have been duped. Instead, we should purpose to remain weak, insignificant and despised, if we want the Lord to continue to choose us. Instead of contending for significance, we should contend for insignificance. Instead of displaying how strong and influential we are, we should reveal how weak and unimportant we are. This is the way our God, He who is lowly in heart, chooses to do business. When we read about those whom the Lord chose throughout Scripture, we cannot avoid this inescapable truth. We should line up on the side of the basketball court where all the wimps and losers stand. Talk about counterintuitive. This is clearly not how the world and the Church think about how to “win.”

I know the questions that run through my head when I consider such things. How in the world would that ever work? How would we get anything done? This paradigm, the choices that God makes are so contrary to our paradigm that we cannot even imagine their implementation. This, however, frightens me. It frightens me because this is exactly the way the Jews thought at the time of Jesus. They simply could not, by any stretch of the imagination, understand that their Messiah would be a weak, despised and lowly sacrificial Lamb. Today, we look back at Scripture and ask, “How could they have missed it? How could they not have considered Isaiah 53? How could they not have put together Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14?” I might also ask in the same way, “How could we have missed 1 Corinthians 1:25-29, concerning those whom God chooses? How could we have not understood the overwhelming testimony of Scripture concerning those whom God selected to do His will? Why did we think that God needed us to be powerful by the world’s standards in order to fulfill His purpose on the earth?”

Paul said in First Corinthians 1:25, speaking of “the word of the cross”: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Let’s think about this verse for a moment. The weakness of God is stronger than men. The weakest thing God could possibly do is stronger than the strongest thing men can possibly do. The weakest thing of all—death—resulted in the most powerful thing imaginable—the redemption of all mankind. Many things are weak in this world, many of them tragic, like debilitating birth defects or unfortunate accidents that result in the loss of physical and mental faculties. However, nothing is weaker than death. Death is the loss of all human powers or hope of regaining them, barring resuscitation or resurrection. God chose the ultimate example of weakness to do the strongest act possible—the salvation of the world. As Michael Card wrote in his song, El Shaddai, “Your most awesome work was done through the frailty of Your Son.” Does this help us understand why no one understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the Suffering Servant? Considering our “power, influence, numbers and money get things done” paradigm, we can understand completely why they missed it and why we do today.

I don’t know why church and parachurch organizations diminish over time. I’m sure there are a multitude of reasons, but it appears evident that every last one of them has. However, perhaps we should toss this possibility into the mix: God has said that His desire is to “bring to nothing things that are.” When church and parachurch organizations become “successful” and use that “success” to promote what they’re doing, does that put them on the list of things that the Lord considers “things that are” that He will “bring to nothing”?

What shall we do? I wish that I had some easy answers, but I’ve come to realize that following Jesus may be simple, but it’s not easy. So, this is where any answers would begin: with Him. He told us plainly that He was the way, the truth and the life. All that we need to know about how to follow His astonishing ways are in Him. We should realize the life-upending importance of our uncomfortable questions, be challenged by them and bring them to Him. Ask Him how to walk in His truth, life and way, in light of these truths. He is everything there is, and all that I can offer.

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