Have you ever thought or even verbalized any of the following phrases?
I am weak.
I am not a good speaker.
I am ordinary.
I am not good looking.
I am a joke.
I am friendless.
I am ugly.
I don’t measure up.
Let's all be honest for a minute. We have all felt or even believed at least one of the above statements.
Before we go one step further let me tell you these are age-old lies from the enemy. These lies have been used from the beginning of time to discourage people and to create an “us” versus “them” mentality.
Too often even those inside the church have bought into these lies. It has caused churches to seek out Pastors who are good looking, have a strong presence about them, or are powerful speakers. These metrics have been prioritized by many churches over things like character, firm biblical foundations, and a genuine love of the people of the church. This may sound harsh, but it is a reality and a flaw of the modern church. It causes churches to be shallow and unloving to those on the margins.
When we seek these things from the leadership of our churches it is no wonder that there is a trickle-down effect in our congregations. We begin to prioritize how people look, speak, and act over the heart of the person. Our churches get divided up into the categories of “us” and “them”. Eventually what happens is that fewer and fewer of “them” end up in our churches and we become an incomplete representation of the true Body of Christ.
These false metrics have become the measuring stick inside and outside the church.
What I find interesting and encouraging is the fact that God does not use these earthly metrics. God does not buy into the lies of the enemy. God runs counter-cultural in His mode of operations.
I want to highlight three scriptures to bring you hope today.
The first passage is from Corinthians and reveals that the author of a majority of the New Testament and arguably the world’s greatest evangelist was a horrible public speaker. In addition to that, he was thought of as a “weak” person. Take a look!
2 Corinthians 10:10-12
Some people say, “Paul’s letters are powerful and sound important, but when he is with us, he is weak and the worst speaker you have ever heard.” Those people should know this: When we are there with you, we will show the same power that we show now in our letters. We don’t dare put ourselves in the same class with those who think they are so important.
Imagine if churches cared more about the character of their Pastors than their speaking ability. That could dramatically change the life of the local church.
Next is a passage from the Book of Isaiah. This passage gives us a picture of the physical appearance of Jesus that we find nowhere else. If you have not read this before you may be surprised.
There was nothing special or impressive about the way he looked, nothing we could see that would cause us to like him. People made fun of him, and even his friends left him. He was a man who suffered a lot of pain and sickness. We treated him like someone of no importance, like someone people will not even look at but turn away from in disgust.
If Jesus were to walk into the doors of your church would love and embrace him? Be honest! My guess is no! By the description of him in Isaiah, I am guessing he would fall into the “them” category. He wasn’t good looking. There was nothing special about him. People made fun of him. His friends left him. People even looked at him and turned away in disgust.
Now think of people in your church that fit that description. How do you treat them? Do you even interact with them or do you turn away in disgust?
It was by no mistake that Jesus came in this form. If you think about it, it wouldn’t make sense for him to come to earth as a tall, strong, incredibly good-looking dude. People already feel they can not measure up to the standards Jesus set. Imagine that not only he lived a perfect life, but he also looked like he just walked out of a GQ magazine.
Finally, take a moment and read a passage from 1 Samuel.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.”
This is the classic passage where God is working with Samuel to select the next King of Israel from a group of Jesse’s sons. All his sons fit the physical bill of being tall and handsome. All but one that is. The small and young shepherd boy out tending the flocks, David. Of course, it is David that God has His eyes on. It had nothing to do with David’s appearance and everything to do with his heart.
So, for anyone who has ever felt that they “don’t measure up” I want you to be encouraged. You are in great company! David did not measure up. Paul did not measure up. Not even Jesus measured up.
Typically, for us, it is a self-imposed problem where we are using the wrong measuring stick. God does not look at outward appearances nor should we! God is concerned about the heart of the person so should we!
This has huge implications for the local church and community, but it starts with us. We must stop believing the lies of the enemy. We must stop using the wrong measuring sticks. Stop believing that you measure up.
We must start seeing what is most important, the heart. That starts with us. Start seeing yourself as someone that God was willing to die for because He did! Start believing that God looks at you and loves you as you are. He did create you that way and He does NOT make mistakes.
We must start by embracing ALL people regardless of appearance, social standing, IQ, skin color, etc. We must be the change. We must do what we hope others would do for us.