If God can do anything, in His own power, why use broken people?
Notice the question isn’t asking how God uses broken people. That may be equally mysterious, but at least we experience it in a way that doesn’t often leave us struggling with the mystery. “Why?” is always the hardest question. I know me and I’m not the best tool for any job God might be doing. I’m broken. I’ve got parts missing. Sometimes I do the wrong thing (should I say it?) on purpose. We Christians have this weird terminology for this brokenness, we call it sin. Sin is just what we call it when we decide to do things our way instead of God’s. I’ve got loads of them. I’ve got ones that are open for everyone to see, and ones that are secret (but not really, God knows). Yet, if you’re reading this right now God is using me in at least some small way. Why!?
The Builder and The Broken Hammer
I know a guy who is a master carpenter. He could basically build a house by himself. He builds awesome things when he’s leading a crew, equally awesome are the things he builds on his own. How much more awesome would it be if you saw one of his awesome creations and found out he had challenged himself to build it exclusively with broken tools? Awesomer, right?
Here’s what Paul says to the Corinthian church…
“I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5 NIV)
Paul knew God uses broken people so the people who are impacted can be sure it was God who did it.
A Broken Lens
So, God makes much of us so we can make the most of Him. He could be glorified in doing the miraculous things. He’s done them before and he’ll do them again. But he gets all the more glory from drawing straight lines with crooked sticks.
Paul again, says…
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:15b – 16 NIV)
God’s power, love, and righteousness are so overwhelming that to experience them fully would literally kill you or me (Exodus 3:20). For our sake He remains “hidden”, and therefore He uses people to represent Him to other people. We’re like a telescope with a broken lens that still brings God close in the sight of those who look through us as we point toward Him.
He uses broken people because He loves us too much to let us go.
Called People Call People
We Christ-followers get accused of thinking we’re better than everyone else…. Because we spend a lot of time acting like we’re better than everyone else. That’s called RELIGION and it’s the opposite of the Gospel of Jesus.
The real results of the Gospel were displayed to Paul’s friend Timothy when he said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV, emphasis added).
Paul knew that he wasn’t chosen (we Christians use the word “called”) because of what he had to offer. He had been on his way to potentially kill some Christians when Jesus took over his life. Paul knew he had been called because of how it would put God’s love, power, and patience on display. He was more right than he might have known, He wrote almost two-thirds of the New Testament.
Yeah, But You Don’t Know Me…
True. But you know what, you may be what I would think is really bad (probably not, but you’re welcome to try me), but the only way you’re too bad for Jesus to save is if you’re more powerful than God. We go to Paul and his letter to the Corinthians again to see who really can be saved,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)
This one is quoted a lot to explain who can’t be saved. So, as long as you’re not sexually immoral, gay, a thief, alcoholic, greedy, etc. you’re good. Those sins are so rare and already condemned by the culture at large anyway so that’s no concern of ours, right?
Yeah, I struggle with some of those too, and not just one at a time. Sometimes I don’t even struggle if you know what I mean… But take heart, dear friend and listen to the very next verse,
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (v. 11, emphasis added)
If even you can be saved, how?
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)
Turn from your sin with your heart (another bit of Christian-ease called repentance) and acknowledge that Jesus died for your forgiveness. Believe what the Bible says about Him and you, even you, will be saved! What good news! Even better news, all of the work of that change really is on God. Let’s let Paul have the last with part of his letter to the Ephesian church,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV, emphasis added)