Summary: Man's religion is at war with God's revelation.
Earlier in this sermon series I illustrated a point with the story of my little one year old daughter Felicity rummaging through her brother’s things in her near constant treasure hunting as she roams around the house seeking for things to get into. Just the other day she came to me with one of their treasures. It was a sizable find; a little plastic can full of tropical fruit flavored gum. The lid on the thing is difficult to open and requires a fair amount of strength. I saw her struggling to open it and, though I would prefer she not eat gum, I tried to open it so that I break a little bit off of the gum to give to her as a reward for all of her labor.
At first she stubbornly refused to give me the gum. I explained to her, through my laughter, that I was trying to help her. She wouldn’t budge. So I left the room and left her to figure out a way to get at her confectionary gold. A minute or two later Felicity came into the room where I was and brought me the gum. Apparently she had discerned the error of her way and realized that she wasn’t strong enough to open the tightly sealed lid. She realized her weakness and brought her problem to me. While I am always at least slightly reticent about comparing my relationship with my children to God’s relationship with us, the analogy stands. In her weakness she was strong in my (albeit relative) strength.
“It is truth in paradox that the more man becomes proud, the more he minimizes his own worth. The antidote? To gaze, not on man, but on God and God’s providence.” (Interpreter’s Bible, Matthew 10:30, page 372)
This sermon series has been entirely about the difference between false and true religion. We’ve look at the enslavement that comes with false religion. When we are busy working to earn God’s favor we get trapped in judgment, we sacrifice inner peace, we don’t learn to live in the freedom that the Gospel brings, and we generally fail to find the fullness of the life in Christ available to us.
Conversely, when learn to open up our eyes to the fullness of grace – He did it all for us, He sent His Son into the world for us, He called, saved, and is sanctifying us. – we see the manifold power of God and His grace actively in our lives.
CIT: His grace is sufficient for us in our weakness.
CIS: Our strength is our greatest weakness.
In Psalms 8:2 the Bible says that “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (NIV84) This passage in the Psalms points the reality that is fully unfolded in the life of Christ in the gospels. We are a part of an upside-down kingdom.
In God’s economy it is not necessarily the most wealthy, successful, or influential people who receive or are given the task of expressing the worth and wealth of God. God chose Mary through which to bring His Son into the world. She was a poor girl from an obscure family in the obscure little Galilean village of Nazareth.
The Lord called the tiny nation of Israel through whom He would one day bring the Messiah. He used the elderly woman Sarah to give birth to Isaac who actually laughed at the suggestion that she would give birth in her old age.
Throughout the History of Israel, throughout the history of the Church, and throughout the personal history of you and me God has been using the lesser things of this world to accomplish His aims and ends.
The saints of God who are found in the pages of the Bible are no greater men or women than are you and I. In many cases they are for worse! They are sinners, adulterers, slanderers, murders, liars, and more.
God chooses whom He will based solely upon His will. Greatest in God’s economy, prominence in the Kingdom of God has little to do with our ability and everything to with His glory.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV84)
God chooses us based on His ability to glorify Himself through us, not our ability to make Him look good. There is a world of difference between the two ideas.