The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. [Acts 4:13 (NLT)]
The 25th movie featuring James Bond was released last October and, as usual, secret agent 007 defeats an evil villain’s sinister plot to create a new world order. If we were picking someone to save the world from an evil mastermind, the fictional Bond appears to have the right qualifications: suave, sophisticated, brave, patriotic, physically fit, expert in martial arts and marksmanship, observant, intelligent, debonair, good looking, and seemingly invulnerable (at least until this last movie)!
Bond, however, is more than just qualified—he’s well-equipped. The Q-Branch of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) always furnishes him with an assortment of customized vehicles fitted with things like machine guns, smoke and oil dispensers, tracking devices, bulletproof screens and glass, mini-guns in headlights, and ejector seats. Along with his trusty Walther PPK, Q-Branch supplies him with other weaponry and ingenious gadgetry like booby-trapped attaché cases, jet packs, poison pens, homing beacons, a flying submarine, fake fingerprints, and various guns concealed in pens, cigarettes, and ski poles.
God, however, is neither fiction writer nor the British Secret Service and His heroes are much less likely than 007. Take Peter and John, for example—the two unschooled fishermen hardly seem qualified to found a church or preach the gospel. Then there’s the frightened Gideon who’s hiding from the Midianites while threshing wheat when God calls on him. Describing himself as the weakest link in the weakest of families, Gideon doesn’t appear a likely choice to defeat an army. Why would the Jews listen to Moses, a man raised in Pharaoh’s court, was an escaped felon with a speech impediment, and had spent the last forty years in Midian? Esther was just an orphan with a pretty face who married well. Unable to approach the king without risking her life, she hardly seems qualified to save an entire nation from extermination. Then we have the Pharisee Saul, a tentmaker by trade. What qualifications did a man who reviled unclean Gentiles, persecuted Christ’s followers, and wanted to destroy Christianity have to spread the gospel? Hardly as impressive as the fictional James Band, these ordinary people didn’t seem qualified to change the course of history or save anything or anyone and, yet, that’s exactly what they did! The British Secret Service may choose extraordinary men like James Bond for their secret missions, but God picks ordinary people for His and then makes them extraordinary!
Like Q-Branch, however, God equips those He calls. Rather than an Aston Martin, God gave those two Galilean fishermen courage, words, and knowledge enough to amaze even the Sanhedrin. Peter led the Apostles and provided the foundation for the new church while John wrote a gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Rather than rocket launchers, God gave Gideon confidence, guidance and a little band of 300 men who overturned an army 400 times their size. Rather than a jet pack, after God equipped Moses with the ability to perform miraculous signs, the words to speak, and Aaron to speak them, the runaway tongue-tied shepherd became the most important figure in Judaism. Because God supplied the beautiful Esther with courage, a shrewd plan, and a series of events that played into that plan, Jews throughout the world celebrate the way she saved them from extermination. Once God supplied Saul with a life-changing conversion and the Holy Spirit, the tentmaker we know as Paul was equipped to spread Christianity to Jews and Gentiles alike.
Like Gideon and the rest of this cast, we have more than our share of faults, limitations, doubt, and fear. Rather than calling the qualified and equipped, however, God qualifies and equips the ones He calls. Rest assured that when God calls us to a task, rather than sophisticated weapons or ingenious gadgets, He will provide us with whatever skills or tools we need.
Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well. [Alexander MacLaren]