Saturday, April 25, 2015

Common and Uneducated

I was the girl who fought tooth and nail for that 4.0 GPA. I was the girl who worked meticulously to make sure that every stitch in my formal gown was perfect for competition. I was the girl who  stressed out when it looked like I might lose my first place position in Bible Quizzing. I was the girl who did all the right things in order to try and be "good enough" for God.  I was the girl who broke down when anyone offered me any kind of criticism. That was me.

You would think that when I got that first place trophy that I would be satisfied. That I would feel completed when my transcript held all A's. That the applause would fulfill me. After all, I worked for all these things. But they didn't satisfy. Each achievement made me only want more, each good deed caused me to feel that I needed to do more to satisfy God.

I memorized the Scriptures about freedom in Christ and about his amazing grace, but I didn't live like I believed it.

Then Jesus changed me. He brought me to my knees and showed me that I can never, ever do enough to please God or to make up for my sin. He revealed that all my perfect test scores, my medals and trophies, my moments of recognition, could never truly satisfy me.

The truth is that despite all my sin, despite my pride in thinking I could do it on my own, God rescued me. He forgave all my sin and gave me new life, life filled with freedom.

Here's the best part: I don't have to be good enough. In fact, I can rejoice in being weak because it shows just how much God is working in me.

One example of this is in piano. I always hated piano recitals because I made mistakes and thought they were terribly obvious. (I cried after one recital because I practiced for hours but completely botched the second movement)
Recently, God has given me the opportunity to lead worship playing the piano. Did I make mistakes? You bet I did. But the strange thing is, God taught me to rejoice in my mistakes, because they made it so much easier to give glory to him. When I perform perfectly, it is natural to take the credit for it myself. But when I know that my performance was last-minute and somewhat haphazard, I can only praise God when it came out beautifully.

All this ties into one verse that impacted me this year. It is from Acts chapter 4 verse 13:

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus."

Here we have Peter and John. They were not 4.0 students; they probably didn't even make it into the 3.0 range. After high school, they did the Judean equivalent of flipping burgers at McDonalds. They would probably fall into the large percentage of the public that fears public speaking almost as much as death. They were as average as they come. So when they stood up in front of the council giving a lengthy sermon about a miraculous sign God performed through them, everyone was amazed. They knew that these guys could not come up with this stuff on their own, so they thought to themselves, "What could it be that changed these men and gave them courage? It must have been that Jesus they talk about so much."

Now picture a different scenario. Peter and John were 4.0 students, scored 2400 on the SAT, attended Harvard and have several PhDs. They are involved often in public service and humanitarian aid, and the news interviews them regularly. Now if this Peter and this John presented the same speech to the council, what would the response have been like? "Wow, these guys are so smart and I have never heard anyone give a speech like that! I wonder if I can get their autograph..."

I realize that this is an exaggeration, but the point is still true. Do your actions point people to God, or just to you? I am not trying to say that you should not try your best at what you do—God says that whatever you do you should "work at it with all your heart." I am encouraging you to embrace your weaknesses and take joy in them.

One more verse just popped into my head. I memorized it years ago, but I don't think I fully understood it until this moment:

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He 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. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus." (1 Corinthians 1:27-30)

I am so thankful that Jesus saw foolish, weak, lowly little ol' me and chose me out of the world. I would much rather be weak for Christ than strong for myself.

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