I once heard someone ask, "If Jesus walked into your church, would he like what he found there?" The speaker was making the point that we tend to place so much meaningless emphasis on things that don't matter a hill of beans in the long run and I can't say that I disagreed with him. But through the years, I have come to believe that if Jesus came to Earth, he wouldn't walk into any church. Based on the examples shown in the Bible, I believe he would probably go hang out where the homeless folks congregate or go talk to people in a local bar or where the drug deals usually go down. Christ didn't hang with the religious folks much. He hung out with the outcasts and the downtrodden, the folks who far too many religious — note that I didn't say "Christian" — people don't want to deal with but who need Him just the same.
One of my favorite songs by Steve Taylor has the lyric
Just as I am
I am needy and dry
Jesus is for losers
The self-made need not apply
The beauty of it is that we're all losers. That's also the dirty, little secret that we don't want to admit to ourselves. We may think we have it together and are doing alright for ourselves but whatever we do for ourselves doesn't matter. In fact — and I know this was the case in my own life — it took my focus off of how much I needed God and how much more He could and would do in and through my life if I would just get out of the way.
My favorite Bible verse is 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. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV) Other versions use the word "confound" in place of "shame" and I like that better because it describes perfectly how the established powers react to it when He turns every notion that they have of what's important or necessary or righteous on its head. Secular or religious — it doesn't matter. They all just shake their heads in disdain and hunker down in their comfortable trenches and try to come up with excuses for why that couldn't possibly be God working. After all, He wouldn't actually use that person, would He, with all they've done? I mean, come on. That church?!? They don't even have a pulpit and, well, it's kinda like mass pandemonium in there. But He used a man who couldn't speak very well to be His greatest spokesman. Shepherds were viewed as shady, untrustworthy types and generally shunned by the so-called polite society but He not only called them to His purpose all throughout scripture, and in some cases made them into great leaders, He chose them to be the first to hear the announcement of Christ's birth. Christ himself welcomed and embraced children in a culture where children were not to be heard from much less indulged, especially by the men, and then had the gall to say that we needed to be like them in order to understand the kingdom of Heaven. He spent his time with social pariahs like cheating tax collectors, adulterous women, and (gasp!) other ethnic groups and then got all up in the religious leaders' business when they tried to call him out on it.
The common denominator among all of the examples of misfits and outcasts being used by God was a simple openness to follow His leading even when it wasn't easy or comfortable and a willingness to step outside the way things were "supposed to be" done.
For so long, I felt like I had to have it all together — or at least mostly so — in order to be used by God. On the contrary. All He requires is that I be willing to be used whenever, wherever, and in whatever condition I am in at that moment. I just have to stop making excuses for why I can't do it. So often I feel like a fish out of water. I don't really seem to fit in in a lot of the situations I find myself in on a daily basis. I feel like I'm not good enough, not worthy, or just faking it most days. But God keeps saying, "I got this. You and me, dude. Let's go make something beautiful." And even better is that it doesn't matter if anyone else thinks it's beautiful or thinks I'm good enough. God does. My prayer is to be one of those weak and foolish things and that God will be glorified and His kingdom magnified by me just letting Him use me to confound the status quo. Let's do this.