As a group, do we Christians get more excited about reaching for Christ a successful businessman, or a single mom who lives in a trailer court? In God’s eyes, the two are equally precious, but how does the church see them? We might be thrilled with the conversion of the single mom, but admit it–most of us are more wowed by the businessman. Maybe it’s only natural, as the conversion of a successful person is a rarer occurrence than that of a poor person. Paul addresses this mystery (and more) in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Click here to see it for yourself.
Sometimes people who have obtained the respect of the world, such as wise men (scientists, philosophers, etc.), powerful (heads of state, industry, people of wealth, etc.), nobility (aristocracy–by birth to noble or wealthy families or by achievement such as movie stars, athletes, musicians, etc.) do put their trust in God, but this happens fairly seldom. True Christ followers must become humble people in spirit, and sometimes also lose their coveted place in society because of their new faith. Pride keeps a lot of people out of God’s kingdom. Maybe it’s just easier for those who have already been humbled by circumstances to accept their absolute helplessness and need for salvation.
Do the proud refuse God’s grace because it’s just too free? Would it be easier to accept some difficult or nearly impossible task–to bring back the golden fleece like Hercules–than to humbly beg forgiveness and do nothing to earn it?
What could be more despised than the cross? It was the most shameful death the Romans could invent, and the religious establishment used the Romans to inflict this death on Jesus, the Son of God. The bible is full of these sorts of counter-intuitive truths. God shows His glory by taking on the form of a servant and submitting to a tortuous and shameful death. We attain glory by humbly asking God’s forgiveness and mercy and becoming slaves of righteousness.
This paradox extends to the types of people who follow Christ. Not many wise, not many noble . . . God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. So why do we get all excited about the successful businessman and plunk him right down on the church board even though he is a brand new believer? Why do we showcase the secular musician who turns Christian and make him the worship leader to the Christian radio listening public when what he really needs is a new believer’s group and years of discipling before he’s ready for such a high pressure position? And why do we fail to genuinely and equally value the single mother and her whining baby who is, to Christ, His precious bride?
People the world sees as “something” must be brought to “nothing”. They must humble themselves and realize that the traits men so value do not make them any more valuable to God than the smelliest street dweller. And those people who are “nothing,” or who have become nothing are exactly the people God can save, bless, and put to work in His kingdom. None of us have any grounds for boasting. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Humble people just have one less step to take to get there–they don’t have to step down–they’re already on the ground.
Though we have no intrinsic merit that could earn us a place in God’s kingdom, we still get to go! (play Irish jig music here) We get to go!! Hurray! “From Him” we are in Christ Jesus. This is God’s gift, His mercy, His grace. He has put us into Christ Jesus. Everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to us. Wisdom? He has become our wisdom from God. Because we are in Jesus, we are righteous like him, sanctified (set apart for God and made pure and holy) like Him. Redeemed? Yes, we have been bought back from Satan’s kingdom because we also died with Christ. The only way out of the devil’s kingdom of slaves is by death. The only way to get citizenship in God’s kingdom is to be born to it. In Christ, we are born again–into God’s kingdom. The one who boasts must boast in the Lord. And what a wonderful, loving, merciful Lord we have. Thanks be to God our Father and to our only true Savior and soon coming King, the Lord Jesus Christ.