January 20, 2015
God Concerns Himself with Foolish Things
by Brittany Tedesco
One of my friends told me how she’d purchased a certain facial moisturizer after learning it was endorsed by a popular actress. “If she uses it, it must be good,” she told me. “She has great skin.”
I agreed the actress does have great skin. Is it due to her using a $12 moisturizer available at your local grocery store? Perhaps, but doubtful. Most likely she can attribute her great skin to a combination of much more expensive facial creams, cosmetic treatments, makeup artists, and PhotoShop.
Doesn’t matter, though. Many women will see her face and throw a bottle of that moisturizer into their grocery carts.
That’s the power of celebrity endorsement.
You want to influence people? You want to get people to move in a particular direction? Find a popular person, a cool person, a famous person and get them on board…the rest will follow.
It’s an effective worldly approach that multiple Christian organizations have adopted. I remember reading about the strategy of a certain student ministry, which would seek out the most popular students—the jocks and pretty girls—with whom to share the gospel, in the hope that they would use their influence to attract many more to Jesus.
Seems totally logical to me. A good strategy—a “top-down” approach.
Yet, when we open the Scripture, we see that God’s approach is typically a “bottom-up” approach.
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
Just another example of how counterintuitive God’s ways are to us.
Jesus chose the “foolish things,” men of little to no influence, as His close companions. These He entrusted to carry forth His message and to build His Church. And they did, and the world was never the same.
Today, God continues to use the foolish things.
So who are they? Who fits 1 Corinthians’ description of “base,” “despised,” and “weak”?
Certainly, there are ethnic minorities in this world that fit this description because of how they’re viewed and treated. Perhaps they’ve been locked into a stereotype or are the victims of false rumors. Whatever the case, they’re at the bottom of the socioeconomic strata.
You want to talk about a people who are despised? The Kachin people of Myanmar (Burma) are a people without a home. Hated by their government, they’ve been forced to flee their homes to avoid being attacked, put into prisons, and tortured. Those who tried to cross the border to China were returned by the Chinese authorities. More than 100,000 are living in camps in northern Myanmar, which are regularly bombed by military planes.
These are the people God has come to. The majority of Kachin people identify themselves as Christians, making them all the more despised by their government and the Buddhist majority in Myanmar.
In Vietnam, where nearly 90 percent of the population is Vietnamese-speaking, the various tribal groups who live in the jungles of the Central Highlands (aboriginal descendants of Indochina) are collectively referred to as “Meo” (savage).
They’ve been exploited throughout the years, coerced into fighting in the French Indochina and Vietnam wars. They’ve been put into “reeducation” camps, and their numbers have dwindled as they’ve been forced to integrate into Vietnamese society.
Yet these are the people God has come to. Many became Christians in the 1950s due to American missionaries, which only made them more despised by the government and rest of Vietnam.
A Vietnamese ministry leader supported by Christian Aid Mission told us about how, in 1975 when he got meningitis, doctors were unable to successfully treat him with antibiotics. But then, two pastors from tribal groups prayed for him and he recovered. Because of this miracle, the ministry leader promised to serve God by sharing Christ with these tribal groups.
I asked him if he finds that these ethnic minorities are more open to the gospel than the Vietnamese majority (most of whom consider themselves atheists because of years of government propaganda).
Through his translator, he explained that it is a lot easier to reach them. These are simple people who worship trees and various objects in nature. When the missionary tells them that they can know the God who created all of the things they worship, they listen—and respond.
Foolish things, with whom God delights to reveal Himself.
India is now the eighth largest Christian nation in the world. But guess where God started? With the Dalits—better known as the “untouchables.” The lowest level of the caste system is where God was pleased to begin. Today, middle and high caste Indians are turning to Jesus, adding to the 71 million believers there.
You want to stay humble? Just read this verse: “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
Stop and rejoice that you’re among the “foolish things” God is using to shame the wise.
Then read down a few verses: “…that no man should boast before God…Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:29 and 31).
“You only heard of a donkey talking one time in the Bible” said a ministry leader from Nepal when visiting the Christian Aid office. “Most of the time donkeys don’t talk, they just carry their load. We don’t talk about ourselves, just Christ. I am a donkey for Christ.”
My, what an impact that “donkey” is making in Nepal—he must’ve led thousands to Christ since he began his ministry there.
Celebrity endorsements? Nah. God doesn’t need those. The foolish things will do just fine, thank you.