1:27 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…
God ignores the powerful, rich and wise of the world, and goes instead to the losers: the poor, the weak, the ignorant. They embrace his Son, while the strong laugh or spit at him. And so the meek inherit the kingdom.
In my tradition we do the opposite. We go for the influential, the rich and the educated. We habitually prioritise the upper middle classes, the university educated, the successful. We are constantly hanging around their door, hoping they’ll open up for us. We go begging them to make a little time for God in their busy schedule. We are addicted. Like the nerd at school who hangs around the cool kids, never accepted but always hopeful, we pester the professionals. They despise us, but we never give up hope!
For too long we’ve poured 90+% of our resources into this addiction. It’s a kind of prosperity gospel. Not that Jesus will make you rich: in our version you have to be fairly prosperous before you even get to hear about Jesus!
When are we going to notice that we’re not making any headway with the cool kids? They have not responded. They’re too busy. They don’t need us. They don’t love us. They don’t appreciate our attentions. More than any other group in society, the wealthy and educated despise both us and the gospel of Jesus we try to tell them.
It’s time we kicked the habit.
If we had spent the past fifty years in Sydney following God’s mission plan in the gospel, imagine what Sydney would look like now. Picture the large, healthy churches in Bankstown, Macquarie Fields, Redfern, Dundas, Cabramatta. Churches committed to reaching the poor, churches who run ministries that connect with migrants, unemployed, elderly, divorced and lonely people. Churches that are generous with good works. Churches full of needy people, people grateful for friendship and love, people with time on their hands. People who aren’t put off by poor personal hygiene and stale-smokey flats. Churches that are a light on a hill in a dark place, drawing lost people to the grace of God in Jesus.
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe it can still happen in our city. If we could just wake up to ourselves and start listening to the gospel of Jesus. If we could just get over our love-affair with the influential.
So here’s the challenge of the gospel. It’s God’s mission strategy in Christ. The way Paul tells it, it has two definite steps, both important.
Bypass the successful.
Turn to the nobodies.
Shame the strong. Choose the weak.
Who’s up for it?