Crazy Kingdom Math “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:12) Gideon is asking a perfectly reasonable question. We have all been there, in fact, this is where we live most of the time. Who am I, who are we, to accomplish great things for the Lord? The problem is not with the accuracy of our vision. But rather with it limit. We are correct to say we are not up to the task of ushering in God’s kingdom. We don’t have the leaders, the wisdom, the power, the money, the energy. True, and a healthy expression of humility – as far as it goes.
The Lord goes on to say to Gideon, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.” (Judges 6:13) Gideon’s vision is humble and accurate, but limited. He is not seeing ‘But I will be with you’. When the Lord is with us what is possible radically changes. One plus the Lord becomes the majority in any situation! Gideon goes on to gather a massive army to deliver Israel and the Lord says, ‘too many’. He reduces it to 10,000, still a pretty comfortable force to have at your disposal, but the Lord again says, ‘too many’. Finally it is whittled down to a mere 300 and the Lord says, ‘that’s the right size’.
God, the Creator, is the one who established the laws of physics and mathematics which proceed and interact in orderly and predictable fashion. But when it comes to delivering people and establishing His Kingdom reign, He often employs Crazy Kingdom Math:
- Five will chase a hundred, a hundred chase ten thousand (Lev 26:7-8)
- Israelite ‘grasshoppers’ will ‘eat up’ the land of fortified cities and giants (Num 13:31-14:9)
- A widow’s 2 cooper coins are more than all the gifts of the wealthy (Mk 12:41-44)
- Five loaves and 2 fish can feed five thousand – with leftovers! (Matt 14:17-21)
- One hundred and twenty disciples are sent to be witnesses to all the world (Acts 1)
The key is never the inherent strength of the people, but that ‘I will be with you’ and ‘you will receive power’.
It delights the Lord to operate this way. As Paul says:
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:26-31
Paul is not being very complementary of the Corinthians, but he is being totally honest. And like them, we are also the ‘lowly, despised, things that are not’, but we are chosen and in Christ. In Him is our confidence.
It is pretty easy to say, ‘one plus God is a majority’, or to acknowledge that we are nothing and God is our power. How do you think Gideon and his 300 men felt looking at their ridiculous clay-pot-covered torches and rams horns as they hid in the bushes outside the camp of the Midianites, as numerous as locusts? At such a moment is even easier to say, ‘I really am the least of the smallest tribe, what am I doing here? Who do I think I am?’ Or we might say, ‘Maybe when we were younger or there were more of us or we had more impressive leaders or… then we could have done something noteworthy, but not now.’
At this critical juncture, God allowed Gideon to overhear one Midianite telling another of the dream he had foretelling the overthrow of the Midianites by Gideon. It recalled him to the spiritual reality and he could say to his men, ‘Get up, the Lord has given the Midianite camp into our hands.’ And the Lord has been likewise saying to us, ‘I am not done with you, I still intend to use you, get up and get ready to get into the game’. Maybe he has been giving some of you visions and dreams, as well?
So how do we enter into Crazy Kingdom Math?
- Be honest about who we are – we can’t screw up our courage and increase our fruitfulness by pretending to be someone we are not. It is OK to be five loaves and a couple of fish.
- Fix our eyes on Him – ‘I am with you’ is the crucial reality. Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). He has given us His own Spirit.
- Give our whole lives to Him – the widow put her whole life in the Lord’s hands when she gave all that she had to live on. Do we have goals or portions of our lives that we have walled off from Him? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33)
- Step out – John Wimber used to say that faith is spelt R-I-S-K! We do well to humbly acknowledge that we are just a few loaves and fishes. It is good to confess that the Lord is holding us in His mighty hands. But until we are broken and distributed we will not see the 5000 fed. And no leftovers!
For those of us in The Word of God, recalling and living these truths is not just a path to fulfilling some particular mission goals, it is itself a key aspect of our mission. The Lord has called us to live as a people who are characterized by this surrendered and empowered and fruitful life as a sign and a means for others to enter into it, as well. In our Covenant we acknowledge that He has called us ‘to give our whole lives to Him, to follow His Son, Jesus, and to live more and more in the Holy Spirit’, He who is our ‘all in all’. He has told us that it was not for our own sake alone that He has called us, but for the sake of those He is drawing to Himself.
When are you too few and too weak to be used by the Lord? When you are one man and one woman, and them as good as dead? When you are 120 frightened disciples hiding in an upper room? When you are four young men praying in an apartment above a drug store? When you are a hundred or so normal folks praying and looking for God to bring transformation? The answer of Kingdom history and Kingdom math is – never!