God Does Not Use Great Men

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving by a church and was struck by the sign outside that said, “God does not need great men. Great men need God.”

That reminded me of an earlier post of mine here, about how Trump is likely America’s version of Saul from the Old Testament. If you know your Bible, you know Saul was pretty much a disaster as a leader, even at one point usurping the authority of the priests to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.

If God used Saul at all, He used Saul to punish the Israelites for demanding a king rather than being ruled by God directly. The same could be said of other “great” (according to the world) men in the Bible, such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar.

However, if you want to find the kind of people God uses for His good purposes rather than punishment, you must look to the weak, the despised, the ignored. Saul’s successor, David, was such a man. He was so little thought of that when Samuel came to his father’s house to find the next king of Israel, David’s own father forgot about him until Samuel had rejected all of David’s brothers and asked if there were any more. Then suddenly Jesse remembered, “oh, yeah, there’s David.” Being forgotten by your own dad is about as low and ignored as you can get, yet the Bible calls him “a man after God’s own heart.”

Look also at the disciples. Not as we know them today, but as they were in the society they lived in. Most were fishermen, which was really a lowly profession in those days. Simon Peter seemed to open his mouth most often just to change feet, as when he proclaimed that he’d never deny Jesus. There was Matthew, the tax collector, which means the Jews of the day saw him as a sell-out to the Romans. Another Simon, called Simon the Zealot, was according to his very name a member of a radical party in Israel at that time that thought the way to deal with the Romans was to, as the old saying goes, “kill them all and let God sort them out.” And of course Jesus also picked Judas Iscariot… enough said about him.

In his first epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul explains:

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. God 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.

When God wants to bless people, He does it through weak, foolish, lowly people — what we today would call “losers,” not through the powerful or the popular or the ones the world calls “great,” and especially not the ones who think they’re great. Remember, as both James and Peter tell us, God resists the proud. He does not use them.

If those of us who call ourselves Christian conservatives want to turn America’s course around, we need to look to the humble, not to the braggarts.

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