Do you remember high school? Among many other things, it was a time when our image and worldview sat under the judgement of our peers. The verdicts of cool/not cool, hip/square, lit/not lit, etc., identified culture’s acceptance or rejection of us. Thank goodness those shallow, stressful times are behind us! Now we are free to live and think without the judgement of others.
If only that were true!
We still live in a world of cliques and peer pressure, and we can still feel that we sit before a jury of our peers weighing the evidence of our coolness. Unlike high school, however, this judgement is supposedly more dignified and informed, and it often comes from “experts”.
Here are some examples we may see as Christians: Someone criticizes the Biblical account of Creation saying it is unscientific. A Christian is accused of being closed-minded and judgmental for standing firm on Scriptural convictions. A Christian teen is made fun of by friends for avoiding things with inappropriate content.
These are just a few, and even if you have not experienced them directly, these judgements and pressures permeate our culture. The world scorns the Biblical worldview. The only thing that changes from generation to generation is what exactly they hate the most about it.
Yet, amidst the cultural opposition to the Gospel, we desire to reach them with the power of the Gospel. For “the world” is comprised of our neighbors, brothers, mothers, friends, coworkers, etc. This combination of our love for them and their scoffing at God can make us feel foolish or helpless in our efforts to reach them. Because of this, we may either hold back from speaking the Gospel or appeal to worldly methods to try to win them.
Will this help? If we elevate ourselves in the eyes of the world or join the “in crowd,” will we make the Gospel more appealing? Does our worldly status enhance our effectiveness?
Once again, we turn to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians for wisdom. After speaking of the futility of the world’s wisdom, he now turns his readers’ eyes to their own calling and God’s way of working in the world. We see that God called an Unlikely People (1:26), using Unexpected Methods (27-28), to receive Undeserved Blessing (30), so that He might receive Undivided Glory (29, 31).
Unlikely People and Unexpected Methods
In redeeming a people for Himself, God picked the unlikeliest people. The believers in Corinth were an unimpressive crew. Not many wise in the flesh, mighty, or noble, they were the people that most others ignored. Their Instagram followers would not be famous. Their podcasts would have few listens; their pictures few likes. Their Linked In accounts would not entice corporate headhunters. If athletes, they would perhaps secure a second-string position on the intramural team. In short, there was nothing spectacular about them. If you were to pick a team for just about any endeavor, they likely would not have made the cut.
Yet, God entrusted these people with the priceless gems of His wisdom and goodness. He called this group to a life of utmost holiness. He commissioned this bunch to shine His light in the world.
Alas! Are not these ventures doomed to fail? Had God only known their true state He could have chosen better people!
The absurdity of the comments is apparent. Yet, while we readily acknowledge God’s ability to work in weak people, we often doubt God’s ability to work through seemingly weak means. The world esteems things like popularity, money, status, smooth speech, witty sayings, social influence, education, world experience, etc., and sometimes we think we need these things too. But often these things do not enhance God’s mission. Rather, they steal from His glory.
It is not accidental that we are low in the world’s eyes. It is not accidental that unbelievers scorn the wisdom of God or scoff at His truth. It is not accidental that He bestowed the secrets of wisdom on the least deserving in the world’s eyes. God uses the very things they scorn to either bring them to the truth or to put them to shame. And He does this not as a last resort, but as a first approach. God does not settle for the weak and foolish- He chooses them. This is so His strength and glory may shine forth even brighter (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Undeserved Blessing and Undivided Glory
Christ has become wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to us. Undeserving as we are, it is Christ alone who fulfilled the righteousness of God for us. It is His death alone that paid the penalty for our sin. It is through His resurrection alone that we have new life. And it is by faith alone that we partake of this truth.
We would never steal credit from Christ’s work itself. Yet, we are often tempted to devise some new method to call others to this saving grace. We want others to be set free by God’s truth. Yet, we often think we must downplay God’s truth so they may be more accepting of God’s truth. How silly! Will not the God of truth reveal the beauty of His truth to those who will believe? He will, and he does this through seemingly foolish things and people so that He may receive all the glory for His wonderful salvation.
Exhortation and Encouragement
Friend, are you relying on your own wisdom? Does the cross seem foolish to you? Does God’s wisdom conflict with that of your upbringing or social circle? Know that God has made it this way so that you will not rely on your upbringing and social circle for salvation, but only on Christ. Do you feel utterly helpless and unable to save yourself? Oh look no more at yourself, dear sinner, but look to Christ! He has died for such as you! Trust no more in your own understanding, but trust in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Brother or Sister, are you on the front lines battling against the lies of the enemy? Are you weary of constant assaults? Are your lines wavering? Are you wondering if you can withstand another bombardment of derision and contempt? Take heart, faithful soldier of Christ! Hold the line! Your Captain calls you to stand firm on His truth. The time is drawing near when He shall show forth His victory to the ends of the earth. Hold fast to Him who is Truth, for He is yet holding you!
Does your heart break for the lost? Do you wonder if the proclamation of the Gospel is sufficient? Could other methods reach more people? Are you good enough or have you done enough? Know this, loving witness, that it was by God’s doing that you are in Christ Jesus, and it is by His doing that they will be in Christ Jesus. And it is by His established method of Gospel proclamation. God calls us to partake in this ministry of reconciliation, but He does not call us to take it over entirely. Be faithful and loving in your witness. Be fervent in prayer. Be dependent on the power of God.
Truly, how great is our God! When we think of our own salvation, or see another lost lamb rescued by the Great Shepherd, or on that day when we stand on the edge of eternity, may we humbly cry with great joy, “Only by Your grace! Ever, only, and all by Your grace!”
Mike Engelsgjerd recently separated from the U.S. Army after 15 years of service. Towards the end of his service, Mike began to feel God’s call to full time Christian ministry. In following this call, He is pursuing an M.Div. at TMS with the goal of becoming a Chaplain in the U.S. Military and a Pastor.