Robert's Sermons

God's Strange Ways


“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Everyone wants to feel like they’re involved in something that really matters. We all want our lives to count. We all want to make a difference in this world – to someone. None of us want to live our lives so that when we are gone we are quickly forgotten. In fact, many people that I know want to do great things. They want to accomplish great goals. They want to be successful. Nobody sets out to fail – we all want to succeed in every area of our lives. We want to live a life that really counts – a life that makes an impact for good in the lives of others.

Well the truth is that we have all been called to do great things! God has called us to accomplish great goals. God wants us to live lives that count as we make an impact upon this world for Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are involved in the greatest mission enterprise that the world has ever known. In the Bible, we call it the Great Commission. You can find it in Matthew 28. Jesus has commissioned us to preach the gospel to every person in every area of our lives. He has called us to make disciples everywhere we go.

This is the mission of Christ – the only mission there is – and that mission has a Church – and that Church is you and me! That’s right, we are called to embrace the mission of Christ to advance the Kingdom of God by leading them to Jesus as the Holy Spirit transforms them into fully devoted followers of Christ. Of course, we can’t do this in our own power, but we don’t have to. We have been given the power of Christ in us. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

So the first thing we need to do is recruit the key players for this team that will engage in the mission of Christ and change the world. We need to find those unique individuals who will turn this ‘mission impossible’ into ‘mission possible.’ That sounds right, doesn’t is? So what kind of people would we need? Who would we choose for such an important task?

Who would we choose?

I remember when I was a kid at school in sport we would often choose teams to play a football or soccer game. When this occurred it was great to have the first pick if you were the captain. You would always choose the best player – the one with the most gifts or obvious ability. In any event the first players chosen were always the very best players. You never chose a poor player first, not even if he was your best friend. Even best friends knew that you had to choose the best player.

We often use the same strategy even when we think of accomplishing the work of God. Somehow we feel that we need to go after those who are the most successful people. After all, if you want to be successful, you need to recruit people who are successful, don’t you? You need to go after the most gifted people, the most talented people, the most wealthy people and the most important people.

If we plan to really accomplish great things, then we need the powerful people, the educated people, and the respected and influential people. This is the way our world thinks and it’s very logical in terms of how things work in this world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people speculate that if only so-and-so (some important or famous or wealthy person) would come to Christ, then great things could be done for the Kingdom of God. If only LeBron James would come to Christ. If only Bill Gates would come to Christ. If only Tom Cruise would find Jesus.  If only this famous rock star, or that famous actor, or this famous athlete, or that famous scientist would come to Christ, then they could do great things for God. Why do we think this way?

We think that God could do great things with people who have something special to offer Him. We think that God could do greater things through them than He can do through ‘ordinary’ people, who do not have the fame or money or recognition. We have been taught to look to the ‘beautiful’ people, the ‘in’ crowd, the people that have ‘star’ power. While this may be the thinking of the world, it is not the thinking of God. In fact, the wisdom of God is entirely the opposite of the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world is centred on what people can do. It is humanistic at its core. In other words, it only considers what can be done through our human resources. And it even looks at spiritual enterprises, like the Church, in human terms. The Church is seen too much like a business where decisions are made according to the acceptable business practices of the culture without necessarily factoring in any of the spiritual resources that God indicates we have in Christ. We can even live our lives based on the wisdom of the world.

So does God really need those who are impressive in terms of the respect and adoration of the world? Are they necessaryfor God to accomplish great and mighty things? Does God pick the best, the most talented, the most influential, the most wealthy, the beautiful people, because He desperately needs their gifts, talents, connections, prestige and power? There is a simple answer to this. It is NO!!!

So Who Does God Choose?

Let’s take a closer look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 and let me underscore some words:

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowlythings of this world and the despised things – and the things that are notto nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”  

All we have to do is look at this text to see just who God does choose. Paul reminds the Corinthians of their situation in life when they were called to Christ and God is still calling people of the same variety today. Not many of them were wiseaccording to the standards of the world. Not many were influential. Not many were of noble birth. In fact, many were considered foolish, weak, lowly, the despised. These are the kinds of people that God chooses.

How strange of God! This makes no sense to people who think according to the logic of the world. Clearly God doesn’t understand the principles of successful marketing! He has obviously never been the CEO of a large corporation – otherwise He would know better. You can’t build a successful business with these kinds of people. What kind of training program are you going to have to develop? You are going to have to invest millions to make such people effective. Often, God does things that make no sense to the world. Take Gideon as for example. You can find his story in chapters 6 and 7 of the book of Judges.

God called Gideon to take an army and defeat the army of Midian. He started out with 32,000 men, but God told him that he had too many men to do the job. Too many men?! The Bible says the huge army he was going up against was like thesand on the seashore. Yet God instructs Gideon to tell those who are fearful to leave. When he did, 22,000 men left. God told him that the 10,000 were still too many! By the time God had finished this process only 300 men remained. That was God’s army. That was God’s strategy. That does not make any sense to the world! No General in any army would think that this was a good plan. In fact, it seemed to be utter foolishness. But God had something else in mind. He wanted to manifest His glory and display His power. He wanted there to be no doubt whatsoever that the battle was His, not Gideon’s – it would be won through His power, not man’s. By following God’s crazy ways, they won the battle. God turned the Midianites on themselves and in the confusion of the battle they destroyed one another. By depending upon God, Gideon watched the enemy defeated before his very eyes. He saw God do something that no human army could do.

How strange of God to choose those who are weak to do His work. But really, it is only strange to those people who do not understand the way God works. God desires to manifest His power and to display His glory and the best way for Him to do that is through weak and powerless vessels. You see God doesn’t need what we think we have to offer. We are not doing God a favour by giving him our puny little talents. He is not lacking anything. God is also not limited by our own weakness or inability. He can supply everything we need.

The reason God does things in this way is so that no one may boast before Him. God doesn’t want us pointing to our accomplishment and patting ourselves on the back as if we had done this great work in our power. He wants to show us what we can do in His power. God wants to do things that are so great and so wonderful that we can point to them and say, “Look at what God has done!” And don’t you want that? Don’t you want to be involved in something that is so fantastic that only God could be responsible? Don’t you want to be involved in something where God channels His awesome power through you? Or do you simply want to settle for the small things you can accomplish in your own strength?

When all the attention is on God’s accomplishments, people will be drawn to Him and find faith in Him. If we really care about the mission of Christ then we absolutely don’t want people drawn to us, to our performance or our actions, because we can give them nothing. We can’t heal them, redeem them, reconcile them to God and transform their lives. Only God can do that – so we want all the attention to be on God and His accomplishments.

The wonderful truth is that God uses ordinary people just like you and me. In fact, He delights to use ordinary people like you and me. And so we do not need to wait for the superstar or the famous or the wealthy. God is able to take us, any of us, and do great and mighty things through us because it does not depend upon us; it all depends upon Him.

Who Does God Magnify?

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from Godthat is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”(1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

God’s desire is to always magnify Jesus. We or the Church are never the focus. God points everyone to Jesus. Jesus is the focus. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is the Saviour. Jesus is at the centre of all of God’s work in our lives and so God points us to Jesus, Who is everything we need. Just look at Jesus Christ. Look at who He is. In Christ we have everything we need. Do you need wisdom? Christ is wisdom from God. Draw upon His wisdom. There is no greater wisdom in the universe. Allow him to lead you. Allow him to guide you.

Do you need righteousness? Christ has become your righteousness. The Bible teaches that His righteousness has been imputed to us through Christ’s work on the Cross. Because He became sin for us, we can now become the righteousness of God in Him. It is not our righteousness. It is His righteousness imparted to us. Do you need holiness? Who doesn’t? Well, Christ is now your holiness. You are made holy in Him. You can’t be holy in yourself because you are imperfect. Your best attempts fail. But as you are now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), God sees you in Christ. You are perfectly holy in Him. Do you need redemption? Christ is your redemption. He has paid the penalty for your sin and thereby satisfied the divine justice of a holy God. You have been set free from the eternal consequences of your sin. By His death on the Cross, Christ purchased your salvation. Indeed He purchased you! You are now His. That is what redemption means. It means that you have been ‘bought back’ by God. You are His. You are not your own.

Everything that you need, Christ not only has but is. Look to Christ. Focus on Him. Meditate on who He is. Think about what He has done for you. Draw upon His eternal resources. Ask Him to fill you with His power. Ask Him to use you. God magnifies Jesus through working in and through us. He wants to do something great and use us in the process. But he doesn’t want us to boast in our own accomplishments, as if we had done the great thing he did through us. Rather, He wants us to boast in Him. “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” he says. He wants us to boast in Jesus. He wants us to boast in our relationship with Him – that we have been redeemed by the power of God.

In fact, this is a quotation from Jeremiah. Let’s look at what it says there, in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

“This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.”

It is not through our wisdom or strength or riches that the work of God is accomplished. It is through His power and presence that He fulfils His mission. That is what our boast should be about. After all, people need the Lord – they don’t need our wisdom – they need His. They don’t need our strength – they need his. They don’t need our riches – they need His. As we boast in the Lord, we are pointing people to Jesus. We are magnifying Jesus. We are declaring that Jesus is the source of our victory, our peace, our perfection, our salvation. Jesus is the source of life itself and we are challenging people to commit their lives to Him. We are not exalting ourselves; rather, we are exalting Jesus.

So do you see that Jesus can take anything and anyone and produce something wonderful? Do you believe that Jesus can use you to make a difference in this world? He can. He can take the weak things of this world and pour His strength into them and make them powerful. He can do that for you. But will He? Will He use you? Yes He will – if you make yourself available to Him. That is the key. Are you making yourself available to Jesus?  Have you surrendered your life completely to Jesus? Are you still holding back? Are there areas of your life that you refuse to surrender?

If you will become available to Jesus, then He will take the little that you bring to Him and transform it like He did with a few loaves and fishes. He will make your life count. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or even imagine. He is able – He just needs people who are available. May God’s strange ways continue to inspire the ordinary people of the world to step forward in faith and say, “Here I am Lord, send me.”