Jesus was a master of this. His story of the Good Samaritan came about because a law expert asked him, “And who is my neighbor?” This parable takes a problem and stands it on its head. I am sure the listeners and the law expert had all sorts of answers to this question, but most likely not the answer Jesus provided.
Here’s the short version: A man lay on the side of the road because robbers beat him, took his clothes and left him half dead. A priest walks by, sees him and walks on the other side of the road. A Levite walked by and didn’t break his stride to help. Then a Samaritan comes along, the audience’s most unlikely candidate for the job, and helps the man. He tends to his wounds, puts him on his own donkey and takes him to a safe place to heal. And then the Samaritan pays for his shelter.(Luke 10:25-37)
What! How could a Samaritan be the hero of the story? Jews despised Samaritans, and Jesus took the unexpected turn to include Samaritans as neighbors.
Upside down stories happen in parables and real life too. Consider Peter. If a person declared that he would fight for me and give his or her life for me, I would be moved to tears. This is what Peter said he would do for Jesus, but instead of being moved by this life-giving act, Jesus tells him how much those weighty words were worth. Nothing. Jesus even told him that three times he would deny knowing him. Not long after, Peter did exactly that. This unexpected twist forever changed the way Peter served Jesus.
What upside down moments are in our future as we live for Christ? Paul makes an odd statement in 2 Corinthians 12:10. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Wait, what? How is this so?
When we want to get an important job done, we look for people who have strong skills. But with God, sometimes he flips the script and uses the weak places in us to do great things. This helps us to focus and see God’s greatness rather than our “greatness.” And just like Paul, our lives and work become a testimony. We tell an upside down story about how our Heavenly Father can use us whether we are weak or strong; in ways we never dreamed or imagined.
If we allow Him to, God will use us in any way that fits his agenda. This includes using our strengths and our weaknesses to do great things for His kingdom.
Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.
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