Irrelevant No More

As I chaired a church committee several years ago, another member good-naturedly dubbed me “Captain Spontaneous.” Anyone who knows me gets the humor, because I am anything but spontaneous. Still today I chuckle about the moniker. We’ve heard a lot of descriptive nicknames throughout the years, haven’t we? Some are harsh and some hysterical; some we’ve given and others we’ve earned. But the sobriquet I personally find most troubling is that reserved for the very last college football player selected in the annual NFL draft: they call him, “Mr. Irrelevant.” To be considered so insignificant as not to matter—except to be publicly recognized as the one not mattering—that is tough. Yet I suspect many among us go through life questioning their relevance or believing themselves to possess little of it.

God sees things differently than we do. Declared Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Moreover, the church of Christ itself is living proof of His redemptive and transforming power. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”2 Not only does God choose His own from the “irrelevant” among us, He does so for an eternally relevant purpose—to expose the shallow ways of the world and to display His wisdom, compassion and power. This is how, for instance, the poor woman who gave everything she had—two small coins—into the temple treasury3 lives on in Scripture as a picture of humility, devotion, and faith. Irrelevant? Hardly.

Society will always define its populace according to its arbitrary and capricious ways; we cannot change this. Yet we need not despair, for God wills to rescue us, redeem us, and raise us to a place far above worldly relevance. “Humble yourselves before the Lord,” writes James, “and he will lift you up in honor.”4 Look up, Mr. Irrelevant, for the last shall be first.5

Father, how amazing is Your love for us. You remember those rejected by the world, and You seek them to be Your own. Use us for Your purposes, that our lives would display Your eternal glory. In Christ we pray, Amen.

1 1 Samuel 16:7
2 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
3 Luke 21:4
4 James 4:10 NLT
5 Matthew 20:16


The Mindset of Christ

One of the more practical and empowering secular books I have read is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck. In it the author contrasts fixed and growth mindsets. Those with fixed mindsets allow their talent and ability to define them. They believe these traits are unchangeable, so self-esteem is based on how one compares with others. Challenges are threatening to the fixed mindset, for any failure is self-defining. For people with growth mindsets, on the other hand, the win is not so much on the comparison with others, but on learning and development. They embrace challenges, struggles, criticism and setbacks, for each is an opportunity for growth. Thankfully, the author asserts that mindsets are belief systems, and those with fixed mindsets can change them. I consider Mindset to be a good read.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul taught on a unique mindset, the servant mindset: “In humility value others above yourselves . . . ”1 Sounds honorable, but isn’t this essentially a fixed mindset, the kind that limits our potential by how we compare to others? Isn’t this a win-lose proposition in which we lose? Are we less valued than those we are called to serve? Not at all. Rather our newfound esteem for others arises from our own encouragement from being in Christ, our own comfort from knowing we are loved, and our own inclusion in the Spirit.2 It is in the marvel that we are loved and the security that we are priceless that we begin to realize also the inestimable value of others. So Paul says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”3 This mindset—His mindset—is not the kind that is fixed on ourselves and threatened by humility; it is the mindset that grows in grace and bears fruit.

We are individually and collectively loved by the Creator of all things, and though He is God, He constantly serves us; sometimes we are aware of it, and most times we are not. Humility is no threat to Him—it is His character, it is the mindset of Christ. We could not be more greatly loved or more humbly served than we are. Then in this confidence may we turn our inward gaze outward toward people and serve them as they are—priceless.

Father, valuing others above ourselves is not natural to us; we chafe at the thought. But this is what You do, for You serve us every day. Inspire us to value others above ourselves and to serve them as Your priceless creation. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Philippians 2:3
2 Philippians 2:1
3 Philippians 2:3-5


Humility—Filled with Christ

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:10, 11)

It is a curious grace to reach the empty end of ourselves. Like frustrated fishermen, we have cast enormous nets for our own glory only to be disappointed with our catch. Whether we’ve hauled in knowledge or wealth, fame or stature, advancement or achievement, none have measured up to our expectations. Dissatisfied, we drop our nets again and again in search for more and more until we realize and confess the futility and mockery of “it’s all about me.” In these precious times of truth so convicting, we relinquish our pride so unfulfilling. Yet what God empties He also fills. We are thus twice-humbled: deservedly brought low in the pride of our sinful nature, then graciously raised up as partakers in Christ’s divine nature. Is it any wonder, when called to follow Jesus, Peter and his friends left it all behind to follow Him? Doesn’t His love compel us to do the same?

Then how amazing the things are that God does through people who are humbled in their flesh and living boldly in the humility of Christ! Who but hearts awakened by grace rise to seek and to serve those they once distanced in indifference or contempt? Who releases grudges held against others but those who sigh in relief over their own forgiveness? Who speaks as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God but those He has liberated from fear? Who stands in prayer against the powers of darkness but the one who has overcome them in Christ? And only in the love and power of Christ’s sacrifice for us do we gratefully offer our life to Him.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6) wrote the older, wiser Peter. Humility is the nature of Christ, and when we examine ourselves in the light of One so great, we cannot help but give Him all glory, for it is rightfully His.

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 2:9–11)

Click here to read today’s Scripture in James 4:1-10

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright © 2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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