I was in a college ministry that targeted its evangelism for one purpose: to select future leaders. I’m ashamed to admit we called this process, “Selective Evangelism.”
We felt that we could recognize future spiritual dynamos by their past high school triumphs. We pursued unbelieving men and women who excelled at sports, academics, and (I’m even more ashamed to admit) who had a sense of coolness about them.
The ministry chose to target evangelism to those cool students because it felt it could discern God’s future go-getters based on natural gifting. It clung to this heresy despite God’s direct rebuke to the prophet Samuel who thought he could pick Israel’s next king by his good looks.
I suppose we thought we were smarter or more spiritual than one of God’s greatest prophets.
But the humanistic virus that infected that ministry still flourishes in modern Christendom. Look at how many mega-church pastors are good-looking and just plain cool: almost every one of them. And those who don’t look cool spend their money on ratty jeans and tattooed sleeves.
The worst part is that believers in the pew begin to doubt God’s impact through their own lives simply because their body shape is pear, their intellect is lower than Einstein’s, and the only sport they excel at is shuffleboard.
As though God needs Joel Osteen’s smile to part the Red Sea.
God Challenges Every Culture
Every culture nurtures biases about which human traits are most needed. And in every single age, God defies our humanistic-biases by choosing servants outside each age’s coolness-quotient:
- Early societies adopted primogeniture, a system where the oldest son got all the marbles (well, the largest inheritance and greatest power). Into this culture God always chose the youngest not the oldest: Abel not Cain, Isaac not Ishmael, and Jacob not Esau.
- In those same times, women were valued by their beauty and the number of children they could bear. But God chose old barren Sarah not young nimble Hagar, unwanted Leah not super-model Rachael, and barren Hannah not fruitful Peninnah.
- Ancient times saw frequent hand-to-hand battles, so all the semitic civilizations prized brawn and bravery, but God chose cowardly Gideon over all the other Israelites, and tiny, artistic David over his macho, beefy brother Eliab.
- In Jesus’ time, the cultural elite prized pharisaical-holiness, rabbinical education, and urban-Jerusalem sophistication. Jesus chose hicks from Galilee, smelly unrefined fishermen, collaborating tax collectors, and doubt-filled Thomas’s.
- Also in Jesus’ time, cultural norms devalued women so much that a female witness was not considered valid in court. Yet Jesus chose to reveal his risen body first to Mary Magdalene, a former demoniac, mental patient, and a female. For a time, the only witness to the resurrection of Christ was a woman.
God always chooses the Dregs of society to shame its Divas.
Modern people have rejected past cultural elitism; we don’t think oldest brothers should get all the marbles (as a third son, I especially like that change), and we don’t value women on how many kids they have. But we still measure women by their waistline and men by their wallets. Is our society really any better?
If you think you are God’s greatest gift to His kingdom, you are next to useless.
If you believe you lack all culture’s coolness-quotients for you to successfully serve, God can do a mighty work. You are in the perfect place for Him to break all society’s unwritten rules and to kiss a frog into a prince
God isn’t pursuing men and women who draw attention to themselves: to their beauty, intelligence, brilliant oratory, or self-confidence. God chooses people who draw attention to Him.
True, spiritual, selective evangelism is when God kisses nobodies into somebodies.