Are you sensing a calling from God but are holding back in responding? Do you say to God, “I am no scholar, I didn’t grow up in the church, I have no influence,” or things like that?
You may find some encouragement in 1 Corinthians.
 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
The world esteems higher education. Being educated is a wonderful thing. But, Paul tells the Corinthians, not many of you were wise by man’s standards but God called you to serve Him anyway.
Corinth at this time was wealthy, prosperous, and intellectual. It was also known for its vice and anything goes, immoral, lifestyle which generally accompanies these things.
The Corinthians esteemed eloquent speech, philosophy, and “sofia” wisdom. Kind of like how we go to the movies, they would gather to listen to men speak for entertainment. They knew very little of the true wisdom that comes from God. In their case, their intellectualism was more of an arrogant facade than a possession of true wisdom.
So, Paul says, by mans standards, “not many of you were wise.”
Did you know you don’t need to be “wise by worldly standards” to be used by God? God doesn’t only call those who can quote poets, those with degrees, those who can compare and contrast the nuances of world religions, those with phd’s in the sciences…
Remember that at one time people killed others for teaching the earth is round. Man’s “wisdom” changes all the time. School text books claim many different things today than they did when I was kid. God is not limited by worldly standards of wisdom.
Years ago, I worked in real estate. Good employees were hard to come by. We reviewed many applications and conducted many interviews. Most times, we would pass over the person that claimed to be so “wise” and well trained. Why? The arrogance and self-reliance that came along with most of these people took more time and energy to deal with than training a person from the ground up. When given a direction, they would reply, “but that is not how we did it at my last job.” That is annoying to say the least. Their great “wisdom” was a hinderance in this case.
Sometimes, the more chalked full or worldly wisdom we are the harder it is to get us to understand and act on Godly wisdom.
With the Corinthians, God had a group that were not arrogantly resting on worldly wisdom. They were teachable and that is trait for a good servant of Christ to possess.
God does not only call the powerful. Maybe today you realize you have no strength to brag about in yourself. That’s actually a good thing. God will fill you with His power. There is no need to try and rely on your own limited strength. One of the greatest powers we have is to admit that we have no great power in ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, we have some limited power. But, do we speak worlds into existence? Do we raise people from the dead? We have the power to admit our weakness and dependence on God. I like what Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.”
Maybe you didn’t come from a nobel birth. Maybe your dad wasn’t a preacher, a CEO, or even a decent person for that matter. It doesn’t matter. God is not limited by that. In fact, it can be a good thing because you won’t rely on your family name. In fact, Jesus Himself was born to poor parents that lived in an armpit of a town called Nazareth. No one could ever say that Jesus grew up with a silver spoon in His mouth.
In fact, in the case of the Corinthians…
 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,
God used ex-swindlers, drunkards, sexually immoral, pagans, poor, and every other foolish people group you can imagine to be a church in the midst of “wise”, “rich”, “prosperous” and dark Corinth.
If you would have been at a worship service in Corinth, you might have looked around the room at this point and said, “wow, no kidding.” “We we’re a bunch of riffraff and look what God has done; he made us a church.”
Paul, the author of Corinthians was actually a foolish choice by worldly standards. He was a violent persecutor of Christians in his past. Why on earth would God choose this man? Wouldn’t people surely dismiss him?
Consider Jesus; born in a cave in Bethlehem and then laid in an animal feed trough. Again, his parents were from Nazareth. Jesus washed feet, touched lepers, and took the form of a servant. He fulfilled a calling to die on a cross. He took a low and despised position in the world. From that position of servanthood and obedience, he shamed what the world called “strong and wise.”
Out of the mouths of babies and infants God has established His strength because of His foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. – Psalm 8
Man, in his understanding of power sees might, force, money, programs, kingdoms, intellectualism, domination, political influence etc. as power. He relies on these things instead of God.
But God uses a baby in a manger, a former persecutor of the church, and more unlikely people and situations to bring these wise, powerful, men to nothing.
Their kingdoms will one day crumble, their statues will fall, their money will burn, their wisdom will become useless, but the word of God stands.
Why does God use “foolish” things that are weak by mans estimate?
 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
What man sees as strengths actually become hinderances.
What man sees as hinderances are actually blessings.
Maybe you have been sitting on the sidelines because you are judging yourself by mans worldly standards.
Listen, God has a purpose for you and He is not limited by what you see as a downfall.
In this passage, Paul completely squashed the excuses; “I’m not smart enough, I don’t come from the right family, from the right area, I’m not strong enough, and so on.”
Whether you are filling a chair in a church in Mason City, Iowa or a bar in Las Vegas, if you sense God calling you to service, respond. God is not limited by what you perceive as hinderances.
Friends, I find great comfort in this passage. Why, because when the enemy attacks my mind with condemning thoughts, trying to plant seeds of doubt, he says things like; “why would God call you, you have no higher education, you have no power, etc.” I think, “that is true, but my God is not limited by anything.”
He calls what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
Lord, I am amazed by You and how you do things. You came as a baby, born to poor parents, in a ghetto of a town and Your influence and power continues to bring mans schemes to nothing. I ask Lord, if you will use me today, please do. I am available.
In Jesus name, amen!
Pastor Adam Tyler is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel – Mason City. Adam and His wife Erin live in Ventura, IA and have a heart for introducing people to Jesus and helping them to follow Him.