God doesn’t need first-round draft picks. He uses completely ordinary, ho-hum, sinful people to accomplish his purposes.
You are not so incredible God thought, “I need him on my team” or “What would I do without her?” You don’t need to be great for God. He is great enough. What we need is faith to trust him.
The incredible thing about God’s kingdom is this: it’s a gift of grace. We are unworthy and undeserving, but we receive it anyway.
Consider Abraham and Moses. Their names probably bring up the idea of great men who had great faith… men who are not like you. But here’s the thing: they were totally normal guys who imperfectly trusted God. The Bible doesn’t tell their stories as if they’re spiritual-superstars. Their failures are listed in black and white because their story isn’t about them… it’s about a sovereign God who works through normal people.
Abraham’s Imperfect Faith
Abraham left his home because God said, “Go!” That’s really incredible to think about. He didn’t know where he was going or how he would get there, he only knew that he needed to go. He didn’t response impulsively; it took some time to organize his people and his stuff so they could set out on this new journey. Surely, some people thought he was nuts (and told him so). But he got up and left his home because God told him to go.
After a while, he finds himself in Egypt. His wife, Sarah, is so beautiful he gets afraid for his life, thinking the Egyptians will kill him to get to her. So he does what any godly man would do… he passes her off as his sister. What?! Seriously. He’s strongly rebuked by Pharaoh and the Lord, but then years later he does the same exact thing again to a second king (Abimelech).
As Abraham continues to trust in God to fulfill his promise to make Abraham a great nation, the time is running short for starting a family with Sarah because of old age. So again, he takes matters into his own hands and takes his wife’s servant, Hagar, and has a son with her named Ishmael. Even in the midst of Abraham making a mess of things, God protects Hagar and blesses Ishmael, even though the covenantal promise runs through Isaac. Despite Moses’ self-reliance, God continues to affirm his covenant promise.
Abraham was a man of faith, but not a man of perfect faith. He was a normal guy who was trying to follow God, but he kept getting in his own way and caused his own trouble. Whenever he tried to “take care of things,” it turned out poorly; and when he trusted God with ridiculous promises (leaving his homeland, being willing to sacrifice Isaac after waiting all that time, etc.) then God did incredible things.
Moses Told God, “No!”
Many of us have heard about great things people have done for God and thought, “Well if I knew for sure God was telling me to do something because an angel told me or I had an undeniable dream from God, then I’d do it to!”
In Exodus 3-4 we read about Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush. As he approaches the bush, it starts to talk to him, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God then continues to tell Moses to go back to Egypt and to deliver Israel from captivity into the Promised Land where the promises to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled.
Moses tells God, “No. Choose someone else. You’ve got the wrong guy. I can’t do it and I won’t try.” Even after raising several objections, and God promises to do it anyway, Moses still keeps making excuse after excuse to get out of the job.
God essentially says, “Wrong, you will do it, because it’s not about you. I will be with you Moses, and I will do it all. You just need to do what I tell you.”
Moses finally consents to obey once he realizes that arguing with God is a bad idea. He became a man of great faith, but it’s helpful to remember he didn’t start out that way.
God’s Sovereign Grace
In all of this, here’s the point: God uses normal people to accomplish his purposes.
The work of the kingdom isn’t about the worker… it’s about the King. God really is sovereign, and he uses normal people to demonstrate his power. He accomplishes miraculous things through ordinary men and women who trust and obey God’s Word.
If you wonder why you never see God at work around you then ask yourself this: where are you trusting him? If there’s no risk because you’re doing things that you can handle, then why do you need faith? If you can do it anyway, then God doesn’t need to work. You’ve taken him out of the equation. God is sovereign (he has authority over all things) and he is gracious (because he chooses to save and work through normal, sinful people).
Every Christian’s Calling
When ordinary people trust a sovereign God, great things happen. Obviously, we don’t all receive the same mission as Abraham and Moses… but we have all been sent as missionaries and ambassadors to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
The Great Commission is every Christian’s calling. Every Christian is an Ambassador of Christ who works to reconcile people to God. If you are not committed to this work, then you simply are not trusting God.
Don’t tell God, “Nope, you’ve got the wrong guy. Use someone else.” Go, and remember that even when your faith is imperfect and you start taking matters into your own hands… God used Abraham and Moses, and he can use you too. Trust him…
January 10, 2017 at 4:27 am
Good word Mike. 🙂