1 Cor 1:27, Matt 19:26, Mark 9:35
My wife Sarah and I have the awesome privilege of leading a congregation in the heart of Lincoln City. The particular area that God has called us to 'live and love' in has more than its fair share of challenges. Like similar inner city communities that are struggling to keep it together, it falls into the bottom 4% of the UK in terms of overall deprivation and the crime rate is even worse putting it into the bottom 1%. Even as I write, I'm listening to the news bulletin of a murder that's recently taken place a couple of streets away from our house.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that something's not right. Something stinks, our world is rotting. The incredible thing though is that no matter how damaged, how tough or how dark a place may be, nothing is too damaged, too tough or too dark for God to turn around. For nothing is impossible for God (Matt 19:26).
What's more, not only does God make impossible situations become possible, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that he deliberately chooses these situations to reveal his power and glory.
The incredible truth is that not only does God have the power to turn dark situations around, he chooses to do it through us.
Back to Front
I just love the way in which Jesus' teaching seems to be so back-to-front compared to today's way of thinking and living. You hear him telling his disciples that "the 1st will be last and the last will be 1st, the greatest must be the least and the least will be the greatest". (Mark 9:35)
And yet that's God all over. God's blueprint for a happy and successful life has little to do with how society measures success, but centres around us becoming more like him. While mainstream society measures significance in terms of intellect, sex appeal, athleticism or wealth, in God's economy we are all deeply significant. As we allow more of Him to invade more of our life, we will see more of Him invade more of our physical community. It really is that simple.
I've just come back from a weekend away with 30 or so of our local folk and I can't say that I got a huge amount of sleep! But what I lacked in sleep over the weekend was more than made up for in encouragement. There were many teary eyes as we listened to each other's stories of how God had turned lives around. People who had been locked into years of drug addiction being gloriously set free and still staying clean. Others who had experienced abusive childhoods being set free emotionally and being able to forgive. It is hard to believe that so much joy could be found in a group of people that had experienced so much pain but there it was, right before our eyes.
The incredible thing was that it wasn't some huge mission or famous evangelist that had helped them find God, it was each other. God chose to use ordinary people by showing his power and love in healing broken lives.
I love the way the message bible translation puts it:
'Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have-right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start-comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God." (1Cor 1:26-31)
Next time you feel weak, insignificant, overlooked or exploited, just remember that God specialises in using this to show his power and transform not just individuals but whole communities and even nations.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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