Pause for thought

The power of lower participants

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"God must have loved common people. He made so many of them!” — Abraham Lincoln

When I was in business one of the lessons I learned early in my career was that the success of a business depended only slightly on the quality and efficiency of higher executives. However, without the the cooperation and enthusiasm of individual contributors at the lowest levels in the enterprise it was doomed to fail. One of the business books I read at the time called this “the power of lower participants”. If you wanted an appointment with the CEO of the company you had better be on good terms with the seemingly unimportant assistant who kept the CEO’s calendar! That assistant very often wielded veto power over crucial strategic decisions! And this pattern repeated at all levels within the organization.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Corinth seems to need to encourage the believers there to overcome their inferiority complex by reminding them that:

God has selected [for His purpose] the insignificant (base) things of the world, and the things that are despised and treated with contempt, [even] the things that are nothing, so that He might reduce to nothing the things that are” 1 Corinthians 1:28 [Amplified Bible]

Paul here employs a very interesting choice of words. He seems to be equating the least capable believer to a “base thing” utterly without value to the world! The greek original is even more rich and subtle in its meaning since the word for “base thing” is built from two words that mean, “well born” or “nobility” or “highly privileged” but then turns it into a negative. For those of us born with a plastic, rather than silver, spoon in our mouths, this word describes us - but it is cause for rejoicing! Why? Because we have been chosen!

Notice that God has specifically “selected”, that is he prefers, people that the world thinks are valueless and contemptible to be the change agents to accomplish his purposes. These folks have no hifalutin notions about rights and privileges. For them the future can only get brighter. Their path can only be upward because they can’t be any lower in the world’s estimation! Their mission, sent from God, is to reduce the things which the world and its systems values so highly, to nothing; or literally, out of existence!

We live in a world which tends to treat human beings as an homogenized commodity, only there to be used, abused and discarded as without further value. But God has in mind a different kind of economy which turns the world’s values upside down! Listen to the words of Jesus: “The last will be first”, “Love those who despise you”, “A master must be a servant”, “If you want to be rich give away everything you have”, “a child will be the leader”, “you are strongest when you are weak”, and I could go on and on (and on)!

In Acts 17:6 we read:

When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also…’” Amplified Bible.

So being “world turners” (revolutionaries?) has been, and still is, our purpose since the Lord himself gave us our mission. How can we accomplish this?

Listen to what Jesus said:

By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” John 13:35 Amplified Bible.

So let’s get over our inferiority complex and love one another and lavish love on those the world deems unlovable and worthless!

Or as Commissioner Harry Read wrote:

We're going to fill, fill, fill the world with Glory We’re going to turn the world upside down!

In these times of wars and wickedness; fires, floods and pestilence, this is surely what the world needs! Remember, the best things in life are not things at all!

Sunday September 12th, 2021
Sunday August 29th, 2021