As we approach the Advent season it’s worth considering how radical the Judeo-Christian God is, and not just through Jesus as messiah. Readers of the Old Testament witness God calling and choosing unexpected people to fulfil a great mission. Moses is chosen to convince pharaoh to free the Israelites from slavery, despite his speech impediment and sin of murder. God chooses David, a young shepherd boy to be the next king of Israel. As God says, “I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7b, GNT). God seeks out the underdog and the under-known, the people whom others might consider nobodies. As Mary sung in her Magnificat, “He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52, GNT).
Yes, God even chooses Mary a teenager from an unknown town to give birth to the anticipated messiah, Jesus. Even Jesus has unexpected circumstances. He’s not a king in a royal palace with a rod of power, but a poor baby born in a cave. He is even given the title of a shepherd king like his ancestor David. The saviour of the world is an unglamorous servant.
And the pattern continues through Jesus. The ones he calls to walk with him are not famous, they’re not wealthy, and they’re far from perfect. God chooses the working class fishermen, the sinner tax collector, the zealot, the stubborn Peter, and even Paul, a persecutor. God’s methods are radical. They’re paradoxical. They’re unexpected. The heroes of the Christian story are typically the ones humbled in their sin and poverty. These heroes murdered, committed adultery, and even denied knowing Jesus, but God’s grace somehow saved them. God loves the sinner who acknowledges her imperfections, not one who clings to his pride and self-righteousness.
You and I are the ones God seeks. We are the ones like the Centurion who realises his own unworthiness before God yet is still chosen for healing and invited to humbly follow. See, Christ has overcome the power of sin and human frailty. Even our imperfection cannot stop God’s great project from unfolding. No matter how small or weak or hidden or unworthy we may seem to be, God chooses us. The disciple chosen to do great things is the unexpected one. The one chosen to show God’s mercy to others is the one to whom God is merciful.
As the Advent and Christmas seasons approach we must cry out Mary’s joyful song that God has chosen to lift up the lowly servants, the imperfect, the unexpected.
Listen to an audio version of this post…