God of Great Reversals
"The God of Great Reversals", I can't remember when or where I first heard this phrase, but it has stuck with me for over a decade, I believe, and I'm amazed every time I see it in Scripture. Rooting for the underdog; it seems as though God delights in using the least likely circumstances to bring about His Glory so that people will proclaim, "That could only have been God".
We love the accounts of David vs. Goliath, Gideon vs The Midianites, or Samson vs the Philistines, where God gives strength to the young, the weak, and the few. My favorite accounts are of Joseph and Daniel, ordinary boys who God used through captivity to impact the rule of kings and the fate of kingdoms! Yet let me ask you, what if all this is given in the Word of God to describe the GENERAL PRINCIPLE for all lovers of God and followers of Christ? The general principle is found in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 "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. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God— that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Mary, the mother of Jesus puts it this way in her "Magnificat", after hearing of God's plans through her: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness."(1:46b-48a, speaking of herself) Then she sings the following as a principle towards others: "He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty."(1:51-53)
God continually compares us to meek and lowly sheep, who essentially have no ability to defend themselves or benefit others. Jesus compares his followers to children, saying, "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt 19:14) He points out the greatness of a widow's gift of two small, copper coins (Matthew 12:42) He teaches His disciples, immediately after they were promoting themselves, that the way to greatness in the God's Kingdom is through service, and modeled this by washing their feet like the lowest among them (Luke 22:27, John 13).
We ultimately have the example of Jesus Christ Himself, as the Son of God: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11, NIV)
The ultimate reversal for us is in Christ's own depiction of heaven and hell in Luke 16, with the "rich" man's finality in hell, and the "beggar" receiving ultimate comfort in the finality of heaven.
Paul had to learn this lesson through struggle: "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
On TV, we see two basic kinds of athletes, after achieving a particular kind of feat: Those who point to themselves and strut their stuff, and those who point to heaven, recognizing that everything good they've received or accomplished is because of the ONE who has enabled them to do so! (Deuteronomy 8:17-18) You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. The God who sees both our actions and our heart's condition, who "opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6), is the God of Great Reversals. May we be quick to give credit where it is due, in everything we do. He can then take the lowly, messed up people that we are and lift us up to places unimaginable, for His great glory and pleasure!