Charles Spurgeon said,
"If our Lord does but stamp His foot, He can win for Himself all the nations of the earth against heathenism, and Mohammedanism, and Agnosticism, and Modern-thought, and every other foul error.” ¹
Christ could merely stamp his foot and win the nations, but we must wrestle with the question of why he doesn’t do it this way. He possesses a higher purpose. The New Testament testifies that he does it this way to accumulate glory through weak vessels. He is demonstrating to powers and principalities of the air, arrogant men and women, and the kings of the earth about the humble and powerful ways of the Great King.
God used 300 men to defeat thousands, and he used peasants to defeat giants and rule kingdoms. Weak and pathetic people are the vessels of his choosing. God did this with ancient Israel's warfare, and he does it today with the church in making disciples. The manifold wisdom and power of God is more greatly displayed and seen in his use of weak human vessels and weak methods to accomplish his purposes.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord...
- Ephesians 3:7-11
"To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given..." The man who is penning this epistle is a former persecutor of the Christian sect. The man who used to hunt Christians is now the instrument of God's mercy. This is a beautiful statement of God's merciful dealings with us. This peculiar election of the "least likely" has a purpose. It is "so that through the church (the sum of these least likely) the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known." God's wisdom is demonstrated by those he chooses. He chooses those that we would never choose.
Paul states this same thing plainly in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29,
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
"God chose what is foolish... God chose what is weak... God chose what is low and despised... even things that are not... to shame the wise... to shame the strong... to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." Think about that. God chooses foolish, weak, low, and despised nothings. Proud men have trouble with this--they want synergism, they want to help the cause of the Lord, and they want to be credited with results. God has a better way. He will bypass the proud and choose the humiliated. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
God has done a similar thing with the missionary method. He has chosen the most despised way of spreading the message as the primary vehicle of communication. God chose preaching--a truly reprehensible method to those in the world. It is "the aroma of death to those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:16).
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5
God chose foolish people to remove the opportunity for boasting, and foolish methods so that our faith may not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Look at what God promises to accomplish through these weak men and weak methods:
The prophet Habakkuk spoke,
“The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” -Habakkuk 2:14
Likewise Malachi speaks,
Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!” - Malachi 1:5
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. - Malachi 1:11
To receive a commission from an earthly king you must be qualified by earthly standards, you must possess an extensive education and have high honors and recommendations from other men in high standing. However, to receive a commission from the Heavenly King you must be willing to be a fool for His glory. This is the Apostolic reality of the church and the wisdom from above. If you have worldly accreditation without a heart for the glory of God you will likely be overlooked by Him.
The world indeed considers us foolish, but "if we are beside ourselves, it is for God."
1. An All Around Ministry by Charles Spurgeon p. 254