“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.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
1 Corinthians 1:25
If you are considering becoming a follower of Jesus Christ – a believer – but are daunted by adopting a new lifestyle, here are some words of encouragement: Being a believer is not simply about adhering to strict rules and social conventions. More often than not, God’s children come to Him and are shaped by quite unconventional and uncomfortable circumstances. These circumstances may invite the judgment and disdain of others, whether they are friends, family, or even other believers. We see this principle all throughout the Bible, from the transition of the leadership of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
The principle: God’s grace is extended to all of us sinners, especially the Unconventional.
In the first book of the New Testament, we are introduced to Jesus’ ancestors, who passed down special promises from God that all believers inherit through Christ today! Importantly, in the first verse of this book, Jesus is called “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Despite the fact that there are 42 generations between Abraham and Jesus, only the first subset of 14 is emphasized (Matthew 1:17), ending with David. Why? To highlight how God’s grace works. This was the most unconventional group of people in Jesus’ lineage because, in one way or another, they did not adhere to the expectations people had for their leaders. For example, they needed to be legitimate children, the firstborn of their brothers, and not be “morally marred” in any way to receive their father’s inheritance. Just about every inheritor in this subset did not adhere to one or more of these conventions. Here are the notable ones:
Abraham: Left a pagan land to wander the earth and make a covenant with the One True God and receive His promises (Genesis 12:4)
Isaac: The second son (Genesis 17:15-21); Was born in his parents’ old age of a barren mother (Sarah) (Genesis 11:30)
Jacob: The second son (Genesis 25:24-25); Deceived both his older brother and father to get his older brother’s inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34, Genesis 27:18-29)
Judah: The fourth son (Genesis 49:8-11)
Perez: The fourth son (Genesis 38:6-11, 27-29); Born through prostitution and incest (by Tamar) (Genesis 38:24-26)
Boaz: Born of a prostitute (Rehab) from a pagan land (Joshua 6:25)
Obed: Born of a woman (Ruth) from a pagan land (Ruth 1:1-5)
David: The youngest of eight sons (1 Samuel 16:6-13)
Conclusion: While believers are certainly unconventional people in the workplace or at school, they may also be unconventional among their own, within the church. Abraham was an example of the former (leaving the pagan world), and David the latter (not measuring up to his brothers’ expectations). Jesus Christ was just as unconventional as his forefathers, being born of a virgin in small, unrecognized town (Matthew 1). Despite their unconventional circumstances, however, these men shared the type of character God looks for in all believers, a key part of which is not being afraid to embrace the Unconventional within others and within oneself.
The lesson: Don’t disdain the Unconventional and, more importantly, don’t be ashamed to be the Unconventional, for in him, the grace of God is magnified!
Other posts in this series: