Thursday, April 22, 2010
God chooses unimpressive things
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. 1 Cor. 1:27-29
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire Him. Isa. 53:2
It's pretty incredible, this theme of Scripture, that God often chooses things that appear lesser, things seemingly small and unimpressive in human terms, to accomplish the great, kingdom changes.
He chooses a little brook stone, in the hands of a nobody shepherd, carrying a small sling against the latest technology -- a fully armored Philistine tank-giant -- to bring about great victory for Israel. And the meme is not incidental: He actually refused to let Israel number the people and use human strength as their basis of decision. He intentionally pared down the army of the humble warrior Gideon in one of the most counter-intuitive battle strategies ever devised, where a couple hundred Israeli warriors took on a hundred thousand Midianites [give or take a dozen, some were not picked up on Google satellite maps because of cloud cover, lol :-)].
This theme is woven throughout Scripture: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Jericho, Judah, Elijah, et al. It never gets old... it is the divine Judo that culminates in the utter weakness of the Cross of Christ overturning the stranglehold of darkness; the moment of ultimate, conscious sacrifice that breaks the power of evil over the human race.
I must confess though, this theme of such glory doesn't feel so great from the inside: when God is doing a great work, He invariably chooses weakness and allows imperfection of circumstance. Great struggle. Hopeless odds. Few resources to meet overwhelming demands.
Then He does the work.
This is one reason why I don't trust the glitzy, glam presentations currently promoted in America as gospel success. And a reason why the rise of the megachurch is inexplicably accompanied by the greatest loss of faith this country has ever known. The slick rock concerts of professional worship leaders and packaged small groups still leave human souls empty and barren, after the thrill and micromanaged emotional outcomes are through. Humans want Woodstock; God desires humble worship... we choose the latter and call it the former, but our nation goes begging, spiritual beggars feeding on the husks of worldly swine.
God chooses the weak things, yet we want the powerful things. God chooses the incongruous things, but we want the glamorous things. Less is more in the kingdom...
God's Messiah even refused the physical beauty that we now call paramount; He had no form or comeliness that we should desire Him in pride. His beauty was first of the spirit; the power and beauty of His eyes was from His inner fire. If He were walking here today, He'd be rejected by the postmodern church gurus as too physically unimpressive, with a ragamuffin membership of twelve. Jesus wouldn't look good in a 1,200 dollar suit on cable TV, with fawning masses... Jesus would not be someone to whom physically attuned women would flock. The wounded would love Him, but the self-involved would pass Him by... Just not handsome enough to stroke their ego when seen with Him in public. Reality TV would choose someone else.
It is in weakness that God destroys false power. He will not, indeed cannot, change the world in ego appeal...
So, dear heart, carry on! If you are weak enough to hold a sling, the giant will yet fall. If you are strong enough to choose divine weakness, you will conquer all!