The Church of the Undesirables
We live in a day when there is a lot of mocking going on. People are not only mocking God, they are mocking others. Perhaps you feel like you been mocked a lot lately.
After the election it became evident that the power structures in America were being shifted by people who were more rural and less educated than many in the current political establishment. These people were not as captivated by the major media and were motivated by a different value system. Ever since, there has been a torrent of mocking and scorn hurled at them.
It actually began some time ago. You may remember how one candidate referred to rural Pennsylvania voters as bitter clingers “to guns or religion” in a previous campaign. Last summer, the European press characterized British voters who voted for BREXIT as “a laughingstock.” More recently, the tidal wave of people who listened to Donald Trump and held to simpler, more traditional beliefs were called “Deplorables” and “Irredeemables. ”
It is a trend.
Many good, honest people have been denigrated in public and in private by the political establishment, the media, academia, and even their own families and friends. It has gotten ugly.
Many good, honest people have been denigrated in public and in private by the political establishment, the media, academia, and even their own families and friends. It has gotten ugly. (That is not to say that everything they do and believe is correct — but that is a discussion for another article.)
The era of “Political Correctness” has revealed a growing tendency for many who consider themselves “enlightened” to disparage those from lower economic or educational strata and particularly those from sections of the country with different value systems. Part of the phenomenon has been sheer disbelief that simpler people might know something they don’t. Part of it may be a realization that power is shifting and their grip on it is slipping. And part of it may be a genuine concern that the less educated will “mess things up.”
That said, it is time to step back and take a look at things.
I believe there is a deeper, spiritual reason that the simpler people often outdo the sophisticated ones in changing history. It has to do with how God works.
Let’s look at a case from the New Testament. It comes from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. Corinth was a city situated halfway between the great cities of Athens and Sparta. Even though Rome had control of the empire, Greek philosophy, culture, art and language still reigned supreme in the ancient world. Everyone wanted to speak Greek, study under Greeks and meet the standards of Greek wisdom.
On top of living in a fabulously wealthy and famous libertine city, the Corinthians considered themselves champions of established Greek culture. They considered themselves progressives. But there was a problem. In the midst of their city was a small struggling group of people who were rejecting much of their culture and its values. These were the new Christians in the church the Apostle Paul had established in Corinth.
To the Corinthians, these people were definitely basket cases. First of all they did not follow the Greek philosophers, but rather the Jewish prophets and a certain Jesus of Nazareth, whom they claimed was the Messiah. Second, they took a stand against the sexual immorality and the cult of temple prostitutes that had made the city famous. Third — and perhaps most important — they were generally from the lower classes. Many were even slaves.
To the Greeks they were the ignorant. Fools. They were nobodies. They must have been easy to mock — or at least so people thought. And it must have been hard for the new Christians to bear.
So the Apostle Paul, who had lived there and had founded the church, wrote this to them:
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (1 Cor. 1:26)
This was not new to them. It was their life.
But then he wrote something astounding:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
There was a reason that the church was made up of the simpler people. God has a purpose. He will shame those who boast. He chooses the outcasts, the “losers,” the less sophisticated. The important thing is not the value system of a culture or the wisdom of human beings. What is important is the wisdom of God and what he values. Often the less complicated people can see that when others cannot.
Jesus had also announced the same thing: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
God is after your heart. And he is after results. They come as a package. When we truly turn to him, and when we acknowledge that we are not the wise or the strong — and we are not the ones who are something or who know something — then we can open our hearts up to God, who is the source of wisdom, of purpose, and of life itself.
And then God can change history through us. He did it in Corinth.
He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30-31)