Article: Insignificant and Unlikely people in the hands of God | JACOB VARGHESE
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 this, of those who became believers in Jesus at Corinth. “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.”
Throughout Scripture we see, our great God using fallen people to help accomplish His greater purpose. Have you ever felt insignificant? The Lord is speaking to you that you are not insignificant. Perhaps you never thought that the Lord Almighty could use you? We are going to study why God uses seemingly insignificant people for His significant plan. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. And why does God do that? …so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God. No one we meet is insignificant. God takes joy in using ordinary people and ordinary things for extraordinary purposes.
Let me share a story which I read long back about a Nail. There built a new church building and people came from far and wide to see it. The people who visited the church admired the beauty of the building. Upon the roof, a little nail heard the people praising everything about the lovely structure and the nail felt no one is considering the nail. No one even knew it was there and the story goes like this, it became angry and jealous. The nail started saying, “if I am that insignificant, nobody will miss me if I quit!” So, the nail then released its hold on to the roof. The roof slipped down and fell in the mud. That night it rained and rained heavily. Soon the roof sheets that had no nail blew away, and the roof began to leak. The water splashed the walls and the beautiful paintings. The plaster began to fall, the carpet was stained, and the pulpit and the Bible was ruined by water. All this happened because a little nail decided to quit! But what about that nail? While holding the roofing sheets, it was small, unnoticed but it was useful. Just because it felt insignificant, unappreciated and decided to quit and you know the story what had happened then. The moral of the story is everyone is important. Every member is important to the church! We may feel like the nail; small, insignificant at times but just like the nail, our absence will be felt. When we are not present for worship, fellowship -in some way the body of Christ hurts. We are all a part of the Lord’s ministry. Just like that seemingly insignificant nail was useful and important in holding up the roof, we all are important and useful for the Lord’s work.
We may think at times as insignificant, nothing special about, unimportant, taken for granted. too small to be noticed, of no influence or distinction, easy to overlook, irrelevant, of little value, exceptionally ordinary, easily and often disregarded, invisible, meaningless and of little value. I want to encourage you quoting from Isaiah 42:3 that – “He won’t disregard the small and insignificant.” God picks up the insignificant, the ordinary people to display His strength and glory! No one who is called in Christ is insignificant in the eyes of God!
Paul gives us an account of God’s favorite people or people God likes best to use in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Some of us may be surprised to find ourselves not included in this list. Some of us may feel that it would be a considerable humiliation to come within this list. We have got our choice of five places: we can either be among the foolish things or weak things, or among the lowly things, or among the despised things or among the things that are not all. In one or other of these classes or categories, we will have to find ourself, if we are going to be one of God’s favorite instruments and one of the things which God has chosen to bring to nothing the things that are strong and wise. This is true with many of us also, right? We were neither wise, influential nor have a noble birth when God has called us to be His children but He chose us to shame the wise and the strong of this world and to accomplish His plans.
Have you ever stopped and thought about some of the people God uses to carry out His work? Think about it for a minute. God used fishermen, shepherds, slaves and even tax collectors to carry out His work. Yes, even in our times God uses such people for His work and so there is hope for us. You have to understand, it is not bad enough that God used those men who were at the bottom of the social ladder. Throughout the Bible we see, the people God chooses are not necessarily the people we would have chosen. No, God chooses the unlikely and insignificant people in unlikely places, at unlikely times to carry out the work of the kingdom.
We know that the son of God was born not only in an unlikely location but also of unlikely parents. We see in the Bible, the prophet Micah writes, “Thus says the Lord: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel.” Bethlehem might be a small city, but from this city David’s royal lineage, something great happened. Jesus was born to a couple from another insignificant town called Nazareth and people who heard where Jesus hailed from, they asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth” (Jn 1:45-46)?
The same way we see Jesus chose His first followers at an unlikely place. He did not search the Bible schools or seminaries for the most learned scholars as we would have been doing today. He did not look among the ranks of brilliant military leaders, skilled states men or famous orators. Rather, Jesus went to the shores of Galilee and called out four common fishermen- Peter, Andrew, James and John. Some might say, uneducated tough characters; isn’t it a bad choice? But Jesus might have found them resourceful, courageous and patient. I don’t think that’s why Jesus chose these men. I believe He wanted to demonstrate how God could transform ordinary people into fishers of men.
God’s work is often done by unlikely and insignificant people-people like you and me. To be successful, we must follow the one who can make us fishers of men. You may not be a superstar; your talents may be few but God in His enablement works out His will through you. God uses ordinary people to do extra ordinary work. Many times, while encouraging people for God’s work I often hear many people who say, I am nothing, I am not capable, I am only an average student, I am only a house wife, I do not know how to do it and so on. Underestimating one’s usefulness for God is nothing new. But no matter how insignificant we consider ourselves to be, we can be
greatly used by God. God want us to go beyond and say, I am nothing but I can do all things in and through my God.
In Exodus we can see God choosing Moses, to rescue his people from their sufferings from the hands of the Egyptians. When God chose Moses, he was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in- law. But God’s proposal was that Moses should change his job and to go to Pharaoh and speak out for God. Look at Moses there; he is coming up with many convincing reasons why he was not suitable for that assignment. “I am nobody, I do not know enough, I am afraid of failure, I have not got the abilities and so on” Just like Moses, we all have many reasons to say when confronted with some challenge.
We see another example from Old Testament, in the book of Judges, when God looked for some one to conquer the troublesome Midianites, He chose the unimpressive Gideon, calling him a “might man of Courage”. Gideon responded “how can I save Israel?” Indeed, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. But God persisted saying, “Have I not sent you? Surely, I will be with you.”
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul pictures himself as a cheap container holding a priceless treasure. What is the treasure? It is “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” Paul was entrusted with it and called to proclaim it, and he saw it as the treasure of all treasures, far surpassing any other treasure. And he viewed himself as a worthless vessel made of clay. That description, by the way, applies not only to Paul himself but to all of us whom Christ has commissioned to take the gospel into all the world. It is an amazing contrast: the eternal glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, revealed to sinners through the gospel, which is carried into all the world by feeble, faulty, fragile, ugly messengers— “jars of clay.” Yes, we are weak. we are common, plain, fragile, breakable, dishonorable. But our weakness does not diminish the power of the gospel.
God has used insignificant people all throughout the history of our church. People who were dismissed by their family or peers became some of the greatest missionaries of our times. God makes us all significant because He came for you and me. He was born in an insignificant city and born in an insignificant stable, so that, by his death and resurrection, we would become heirs of God’s kingdom. You and I are significant because Jesus shed his blood for us, redeemed us, forgave us. He calls us the sinners that we are, to become disciples and to make disciples of all nations. If you think you are insignificant, you are not, because you are a child of God, and significant in His eyes and for His mission. The Lord wants to use you more than you ever thought possible. When I look back in my own life, I understand God has called me from a village in Kerala to North India for His ministry. It is an assignment that I believe that God’s call on my life and oh, how unlikely man I was. God calls unlikely people like you and me even today.