I still remember sitting in a high school class when all of a sudden my teacher had an epiphany.
“What if Eminem got saved?” she exclaimed, “Do you know how popular he is??? He would start rapping for Jesus and millions would be saved!”
She went on to pray for a few minutes that God would save Eminem and use him to save millions.
I remember sitting there and thinking that it would be a great thing if someone as famous as Eminem got saved, because not only would people be more likely to listen to him, but they would probably be more likely to think well of me as a Christian.
A couple years later I went to a Bible School where I read through the entire Bible in ten weeks. And for some reason, my teacher’s outburst that day stuck with me.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that not only does God not usually save “famous” people, but instead he normally chooses to save and use the ordinary. One of the stories that really made this evident to me was found in Judges chapter 7.
Israel is at war with the Midianites and the Amalekites. And 32,000 Israelites are ready to do battle against them. Gideon is leading the way, but the Lord says some shocking words in Judges 7:2-3,
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.
God wants the glory from the win. He doesn’t want boastful Israel thinking that it was their strength that gave them the victory. So God has Gideon send 22,000 people away.
But he doesn’t stop there. He then says to Gideon,
“The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water.
Out of 10,000, there are 300 men who lapped like dogs. They are less than ordinary, they are absolutely strange. And God sends 9700 people away and chooses to go to battle with the 300 who drink like dogs.
Well in reading the rest of the chapter we find out that the 300 stand around on the outskirts of the camp where the enemy is located standing weaponless and all they do is blow a trumpet and smash some pitchers and stand there as they watch the Lord win the battle for them.
What’s the point of this story? God doesn’t need people to accomplish his mission. God can destroy nations with a simple word.
Things are the same throughout Scripture, we see story after story that reminds us of this very truth. And ultimately we see this displayed in the choosing of the disciples. Jesus chooses twelve men who are so likely to put their foot in their mouth, they fight, they cut people’s ears off, and lack faith and courage. In other words, they are ordinary men. And yet God uses them and uses them to do extraordinary things.
What’s the point?
When ordinary people do extraordinary things, God gets all the glory.
And God shares his glory with no one. In fact, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 tells us exactly why God chooses to work this way. In verse 19 the Bible tells us that God says “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
And in the rest of the chapter he tells us that he is going to do it by saving people who seem rather ordinary, if not even less than that. In fact, he even says that he chooses people who aren’t wise, noble or mighty, who are ignored and even who are nothing so that the weak can shame the strong and so that no one may boast.
Do you feel inadequate at times? Do you feel like you don’t have what it takes to share the Gospel or to serve the Lord?
Then you are exactly the kind of person God wants to use to bring the Gospel to the world.
Sure God can choose to save celebrities for his glory and use them to save many of his elect. But God typically, throughout biblical and church history, chooses those who are weak according to the flesh in order to make them strong and use them mightily, so that when people look around at everything these men and women have accomplished, they will instantly lift their eyes to heaven and worship the one who enabled these ordinary people to do extraordinary things.