Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK TEN
ORBIT – DAY FORTY SIX
Hello and welcome to another week of Orbit – the weekday devotional thought from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each day we give you a little bit of the Bible to chew on, a few thoughts about it, and one practical way to put it into action in your life. Our journey together through the story and writings of the Early Church is today taking us into a new book – Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth.
BIBLE READING – 1 Corinthians 1: 26-27
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 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.
I don’t know whether you have a particularly high opinion of yourself, but most of us don’t exactly brim with unswerving self-confidence. Many of us know our flaws and weaknesses only too well, and actually, becoming a Christian doesn’t always help our self-esteem. Maybe that sounds a little controversial, so let me explain: when we understand who God is – this all-powerful, all knowing all seeing God, we can feel a little bit insignificant by comparison. In the light of the creator God, the perfect saviour Jesus, or the powerful Spirit, we could actually feel a bit small and unworthy.
That isn’t necessarily a particularly healthy or correct interpretation of who we are in the light of God, but perhaps for some of us it’s actually quite an accurate reflection of how we feel. Perhaps this was also in the thinking of the young church at Corinth, which Paul is writing to in this letter. We know from the verses before this one, that the church was beset with quarrelling about which of their leaders were the greatest; clearly these were people who did not quite have their own identities in Jesus nailed down. Paul’s response is to say that if they are looking for wisdom in great leaders, they are probably looking in the wrong place.
If they are struggling with self-confidence, then Paul’s words here might initially not help very much. He reminds them that they are not a particularly wise or remarkable bunch; that they were born into fairly humble families. So far, so discouraging. But here is the twist: Paul says that God is going to use them to transform their city – and even have a lasting impact on the world – not because of who they are, but because of who he is.
Indeed, it’s the very fact that they are unremarkable that makes them perfect candidates to be used by God. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise”, Paul writes. That is quite an amazing statement. So is the one that follows it: “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
There are two really important components of this idea for us to get our heads around. First, that it doesn’t matter how weak or insignificant you feel, God can and will use you to build his kingdom. Second, he actually chooses to use people and things that others would consider weak and foolish, over and above those things that the world would glorify. God loves the underdog, and it is this that leads me to deduce that he is a West Ham United supporter. Seriously though, God doesn’t care how small we feel, because his incredible power turns us into superheroes.
What should that then do for our self-esteem? Perhaps it helps us to stay a little bit humble to know that the source of our successes is Almighty God, but maybe it also helps us to feel more philosophical about our weaknesses and failures. God chooses to use us in spite of them, and perhaps even because of them, and that’s because he loves us so much, that like the perfect father he is, he sees straight past them and directly to the hearts of his children. Our self-esteem, and our identity should be rooted in that knowledge: that we are known and loved by God.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God, I thank you that you love me unconditionally. I thank you that my weaknesses and failings don’t matter to you; in fact you choose to use me in spite and because of them. I pray that you would use my foolishness and weakness to bring your kingdom in the world. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
This might feel like a difficult activity, but it could also be a profound one. Spend a few minutes praying to God in front of a mirror. Really simply: ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you. This may be very uncomfortable, especially if you are not someone who enjoys looking at their own reflection. But persevere with it if you can, because God thinks you’re amazing, and he wants you to know it deeply in your being.
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We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!