In my life as a failing evangelist, there are times when I simply feel outgunned. These days I’m faced with so many people who simply aren’t where I am. They’re not even within a country mile of sharing the same convictions as me about God, Jesus and the Bible. I feel I haven’t got the firepower. I stand there feeling a little weak and pathetic as the ‘so-called’ wisdom of unbelief imposes itself. And it’s unopposed by anything sensible that I can think to say in defence of my position. At the moment, in London, the numbers of unbelieving people are huge. The church, though growing, is massively outnumbered. The strength of feeling about Christianity, though mixed, can be really negative; perhaps especially so in the media. The arguments offered against Christian faith are complex and overwhelming. We can be viewed with such dismissive scorn. I don’t like that. It can feel too much at times. I feel like the little Dutch kid with his finger in the dyke as the water gushed through. It’s hard to believe that we’re making progress with the gospel.
But do you think that God is unsettled by this? Does it mean that His strategy for reaching His world with the wonderful news of Jesus Christ needs a re-think? Is it a case of ‘back to the drawing board, let’s come up with plan B?’ Not a bit of it. The God of the Bible is so magnificent, so worthy of praise that He’s woven our weakness and works through our weaknesses as the means by which He’ll bring Himself glory. He’s that magnificent.
We were studying Psalm 8 in Growth Group this week when it hit me. Verse (2) is one of those verses that makes you go ‘what?’ Initially perplexing but actually quite brilliant. We’re quite used to the idea expressed in verse one that God displays His glory through the heavens. Creation is God’s bling after all. We get that. But we’re less familiar with the idea that God uses weak people as part of his strategy to glorify Himself. But listen to what the Psalmist says, ‘Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger’. God uses kids to defeat those that oppose Him and His plans. He’s not averse to using the weak things of this world to shame the strong. I read that somewhere! And Jesus picked up on Psalm 8 in his confrontation with the religious authorities. It’s in Matthew 21. They were in the Temple. Jesus had just performed some miraculous healings to show that he was the one in whom the glorious New Creation was to be found. And it had gone down a storm. As usual, the kids were running around after church, shouting. And what they called out was ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. The religious authorities didn’t like it; not the running, the shouting. But the kids got it. The grown ups didn’t. Sometimes kids just say what has to be said and they nail it.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that none of us, if we were ever appointed an Army General, would choose to go into battle with troops consisting of toddlers barely out of nappies. But that’s whom God has recruited to His cause. That’s what the Psalm says. And that’s who He continues to use. Us. Figuratively we’re like toddlers barely out of nappies. And sometimes, faced with those who aren’t exactly for God, Jesus and the Gospel it can feel like that. We look at the size of the enemy, or the task before us. And we despair. But this is all part of God’s wonderful plan to bring glory to Himself. As one learned contributor in our group said last night, ‘it takes someone very powerful to use weak people to display His power’. He’s incomparably powerful. So much so that He’s even prepared to use us, weak as we undoubtedly are.