“Greater things,” the two words Jesus used to describe what His disciples, His homies, are capable of. Is that you? Because Jesus said you can do even greater things than He did. That’s a radical statement coming from the One who turned water into wine and restored lepers and rose Lazarus from the dead. So either Jesus is blowing smoke or you are underestimating your potential. This 3 part series called Greater things challenges our confidence problem and helps us see that God always uses unlikely people.
In fact, God promises His power is made perfect in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Not in strength. Not in armies. Not in crossfit. Not in titles. Not in flashy lights. Not in beauty and perfection. Not in dolla dolla bills ya’ll. You think that’s ludicrous?
So is a rod.
So are 5 stones and a slingshot.
So is a prostitute with her long list of tricks and the pain that led her there.
So is God on a tree.
Salvation came through through pain.
Why would you be able to bring it any other way?
Isaiah 53 describes what the Messiah, the ONE who could come and change the world, what He would look like: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Funny, even God Himself didn’t use force or arrogance or the highest rung on a ladder or lots of letters after his name. He didn’t use a perfect family line or a position of power or wealth or worldly ideals of strength to impact the world. God used not a crib but a manger. God used not a “because I told you so” authority, but a “I’ll show you so” humility. God used not a long line of Christian nobility, but instead a family tree that was about as crooked as can be with harlots, ho’s and heathens that birthed His DNA. God used not a throne, but a cross. God used not success but suffering. God used not a strong hand of punishment nor a power play, but instead He laid down His life in a salvation move that was well played. And yet we think it’s going to be by our clout, our titles, our awesomeness, our cool factor, our magnetism, our put togetherness and our strength that changes lives? Who are we kidding?
What does God use to change the world?
Wounds. Jesus wears them like a shirt on His back. He stays there taking on our abuser’s abuse. The anger that was lashed out on us lashes Him. He wears the wounds that caused those wounds and those wounds my wounds have caused. He takes on the molestation and twisted confusion. He takes on the names they called us. He takes on the despair that leads young people to give up. He takes on the agony, the grief. He wears all of our wounds. He says with His life “These won’t keep you from me. These won’t separate us. Your wounds won’t have the final say. Mine will. My wounds will heal you. My wounds will set you free. My wounds will define you. My wounds will determine who you will be.”
God isn’t running from your brokenness. He wiped brokenness all over Himself. Your brokenness didn’t keep Him from saving you, it sure as hell isn’t gonna keep Him from using you!
God will use your pain for good.
I love what Joseph- who was betrayed and abandoned by his own brothers and then used by God to reconcile his family and help people in famine- said: What you intended for harm, God intended for good.
I get it, I promise I do. Some of you have been abused and you still live in fear and your fear is paralyzing your destiny. Some of you, man, you don’t trust anybody because people haven’t been trustworthy and your trust issues are holding you back from great things. Some of you have been hurt by the Church and those wounds are keeping Jesus and his call on your life at a distance. Some of you are sure your mess will keep following all of your dreams so you’ve stopped dreaming. Some of you have been told you don’t have what it takes to do great things and you have started to believe it. You can believe all those lies because our brokenness lies to us.
We have a God who enters brokenness and purposes it. We have a God who can take everything you have ever been through and He can, instead of writing you off, write the best stories with your pain. Your story of abuse can set free someone who is being abused right now. Your parents’ divorce can comfort someone whose family is falling apart today. Your struggle to like what you see in the mirror can come alongside young women and keep them from going down the agonizing road you have. Your pain can point to His pain and His pain is what heals. God does His greatest work through pain. His and ours. Allow Him to meet you in your brokenness and use you there.
Jesus’ very presence challenged my confidence problem when I was a young college student doubting I could be used to do great things. And He continues to challenge my confidence problems. Everything I saw in Him made everything in me turn around. I went back to the pastor and said “God told me Never say no to what I can do through you. So here I am taking Him at His word that He use even me.” And that was when I became an intern at a church for God’s sake.
The pastors threw me in with the wolves. No training. No Bible 101. No speech class. All I felt I had in my pocket was pain and Jesus meeting me there. So up on a stage with a mic, I spoke a piece of my story. A girl came up to me afterwards and said, “I know what it’s like to hurt too. My stepdad beats me.” My very first lesson as a pastoral intern was that God used my pain to engage hers. She wanted my Rescuer. We wanted Him together. The day I turned around, putting my confidence in the greatness of what only God can do, was the beginning of experiencing greater things.
You want to change the world? You want to impact a generation? You want to live out your God-destined dreams? You can! Your confidence needs to be not in your self and what you can or can’t do. Your confidence needs to be in the greatness of Jesus Christ to meet you in your brokenness and use you there too. Turn around. Lay down your confidence and your insecurities. Lay down your failures and your past. Lay down your wounds. And pick up the greatness of Jesus Christ. You can be confident, He is all you need to do great things!