Philip’s life changed with two words from Jesus – “Follow Me.”
What an unprecedented, unexpected marvel – he had found the Messiah! He ran to share this amazing turn of events with his friend, Nathaniel. “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
I can imagine that Nathaniel’s excitement grew with every word out of Philip’s mouth – could it be true that the Messiah was among them? But then…he heard Nazareth and I can just picture his shrug of dismissal, his incredulous expression, his let-down spirit. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
For whatever reason – whether it was because Nazareth was a tiny, unpolished town or because its reputation was less than stellar – he just didn’t think it was a place that could produce anything good. It was a middle-of-nowhere, unremarkable place.
His question dismissed the possibility of something good – something God-given – because Nazareth was of no earthly importance.
This voice sounds familiar to me…because, sometimes, when excitement fills my heart about the possibilities God has in store for my life – there is a dismissive shrug of shoulders, a cynical shake of the head, and I hear – How could anything good come from you?
Have you ever heard this voice? It reminds me that I am unqualified. It tells me that I don’t have the right connections, the right degrees, the right bright and shiny words. It tells me that I am unremarkable and that my past is (way) less than stellar. This voice is disdainful and undermining, with its easy dismissal of value. The votes are in, it says, and the results are clear – you are too unimportant to be of worth in this world.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, then please let these words sink into your heart –
The voice that tries to steal your joy in what God is doing in your life, the voice that tries to kill your faith in His love for you, and the voice that tries to destroy your hope for the future in Him? That voice belongs to the enemy. Satan wants to see you side-lined for the rest of your life in a fog of self-condemnation and worthlessness. He wants to dissuade you from living in the freedom of God’s love and moving forward in faith.
This is why Jesus warns us in John 8:44 that the devil is a liar – the father of lies – and there is no truth in him. (John 8:44) The NIV translation says that when he lies, he is speaking his “native language”.
The thing is – satan is skilled in twisting truth. It’s a dangerous kind of deception.
Because Nazareth was a small town, wasn’t it? There wasn’t much going on that was note-worthy…it was far from Jerusalem and without any grand connections, as far as most Israelites were concerned.
And when I look at my own life, I recognize that I am – by cultural standards – unremarkable. I actually do live in a tiny town. I don’t have a perfect past or a resume overflowing with amazing experiences…I am just me. Just an ordinary woman in an ordinary town with an ordinary life.
Odds are, you are pretty ordinary, too.
Can you see how the enemy takes this and twists it with his lies, trying to convince us that these facts equal his conclusion of inferiority, worthlessness, unimportance?
Can you hear the question echo – can any good thing come from us?
Let’s check back in with Philip and Nathaniel. Philip is not deterred by Nathaniel’s doubt. His confidence is not shaken and his belief is not hindered. He doesn’t try to argue. He just wants Nathaniel to take a look for himself, knowing that the presence of Jesus would change everything. So he says – Come and see. Nathaniel is willing and – after only two sentences from Jesus – the one who wondered if anything good could from Nazareth is confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of Israel.
Suddenly, something good – the best Someone, actually – has come from Nazareth. This tiny, insignificant town was chosen as the place for the Son of God to spend his childhood days…it didn’t matter to God what anyone on this earth thought of Nazareth. It was designed and used for His purpose.
So come and see, friends….
Come and see that it does not matter what ‘importance’ this world sees in you – God will use us for His glory if we are willing to surrender our lives to Him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)
Come and see that Jesus died for us – for every single one of us – and His Spirit dwells within us. That is all the qualification we need to come into the very presence of God, to say with confidence that we are made righteous in His sight. We have the only connection that truly matters – to Him.
Come and see that we belong to a remarkable, extraordinary, awesome God who (lavishly!) loves us and calls us His children.(1 John 3:1) We have value and worth because we are His!
Come and see that the potential for our ‘good’ in this world does not depend upon our ‘platforms’, our awesome reputations, or our resumes. We have a work to do for Him – a future designed to bring others to Him, to bring Him glory, because we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)
So when it comes to the plans God has for you, don’t let the voice of the enemy stop you from walking on the path He has made for you. Your worth is not given by man, but by God Himself. Here’s the conclusion that He comes to when He see you: in Christ Jesus, you are loved, set free from sin, and created so that something good will come from you.
And just like a small boy slaying a giant, just like fishermen turning the world upside down, just like an ordinary girl giving birth to the Messiah – our willing hearts can be used, through the power of God, to do Kingdom-building, eternal-difference-making things…leaving no doubt that all of the honor and glory belong to Him.
Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind! -Psalm 66:5