Our culture puts a lot of stock in credentials. If we hire someone for a job, we want to know they’re capable of doing the work. If we ask someone for advice, we want to know they’re familiar with the subject matter. The more titles, diplomas, and achievements a person has to their name, the more we’re inclined to trust them. Generally, this is a prudent attitude for approaching the world, but God has a way of turning our preconceptions upside-down, especially when we try to apply them to Him.
Just ask Kyle Idleman. In an excerpt from his latest book on Relevant Magazine, Idleman reflected on how many Christians avoid taking an active hand in ministry because they feel unqualified. However, Idleman argues that God doesn’t need us to be qualified, He needs us to be willing. He writes,
“What’s the past burden you’re still carrying? Adultery? Go talk to David the king. Lying? Deception? Abraham and Isaac knew a little about that. A sordid past? God chose Rahab, a prostitute. Anger and temper issues? James and John fit into God’s plan anyhow.”
“Maybe today it’s your turn. Jesus has a message for you. It has nothing to do with your qualifications. It has to do with coming to the end of yourself, because that’s when God can use you in the very best way. By His grace, and by nothing you can offer, He chooses you.”
“In fact, you may feel held back by one particular issue, and that issue is precisely what God wants to use. It’s actually one of favorite strategies. Your ‘disqualifier’ becomes God’s qualifier.”
For my part, one of my biggest heroes growing up was a Christian woman who was initially deemed “unqualified”. Her name was Gladys Alyward, and she served as a missionary to China in the 1930’s. Alyward was a London-born woman from a working-class family, and while that may not sound particularly significant to us, back then it meant she was living at the bottom of the social ladder. When Alyward first applied to be a missionary, she was rejected because of her background and lack of education. Not to be deterred, Aylward traveled to China alone.
What happened next can be read in an old article of mine, ironically named Unqualified,
“As the years passed, the people of the city gave Alyward the name Ai-weh-deh, meaning ‘Virtuous One.’ Her inn expanded to become an orphanage where she cared for over 100 children, and when the Japanese threatened to invade in WWII, it was she who led the children over the mountains to safety. Alyward continued to preach the message of Christ all her life until she died in 1970.”
God loves unqualified Christians. Look at Paul – a zealot who was actively persecuting believers for their faith. Look at Mary - a young woman with no experience beyond her own faith. Look at Matthew - who was a tax collector and pariah in his own community. God can take one unqualified believer and use them to change the world.
It’s time we let go of our fears, our guilt, and our pride. Christ is calling us to the Great Commission, will you answer?
What about you? What unqualified Christians have inspired your faith?
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com