A God Called "Useless"

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).

"Have you not even read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" (Mark 12:10-11).

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him (Isaiah 53:3).

Coming to the living stone, indeed rejected by men but before God chosen and precious . . . (I Peter 2:4).

Several years ago I worked with a girl who was trying to learn English. I spent a couple of hours with her per week, just helping her practice talking. I invited her to my house one day, and when she came over, my dog, in his normal state of extreme excitement, jumped toward her and frightened her. Once they had both calmed down, she looked at him, small, white, and fuzzy, and said one word: "Useless!" It was hilarious. The word "useless" will always conjure up that moment for me.

"Useless," unfortunately, is also a word I hear too often in my own heart and head. Perhaps you hear it too. If so, you're in good company. The four Scriptures cited above all contain the word "rejected." An alternate rendering of the NT Greek could actually be "declared useless." Jesus was declared useless! What's more, Jesus was declared useless precisely by the people most equipped to recognize Him. The elders, who should have been wise, and the chief priests, who should have been mindful of God's ways, and the scribes, who should have been thoroughly familiar with the promises of Scripture, all looked into the face of the miracle worker of Galilee and said, "Useless!" The people to whom He was sent, and who He had chosen for Himself, drawn out of Egypt and shepherded through the centuries, whom He had touched and healed and given the words of life, looked at His face and said, "Useless!"

This was the majority opinion--and how often the majority opinion comes to feel like the truth, merely because it is so often repeated. The supreme irony is that no opinion has ever been so wrong. They made fun of Him on the cross, treated Him as a nothing, held Him in contempt--in precisely the moment He was effecting salvation for their souls.

When we share the gospel, or when we go out as a light in our communities, it is very easy to feel useless. When we don't see fruit, it is very easy to believe that the gospel is useless. We're not, and it's not. The voices that said, "Useless!" were loudest when God's power was most at work; could the same thing not be happening in us? Could it not be that God is doing great things under the surface, working through the very things that seem or feel useless?

Take heart; you're in good company.


  • We've started to see a little fruit through the Iranian center. We've passed out many fliers, and teams have come from America and passed out many fliers, and we've seen very few people come to the center, but in the last two weeks we have had a lady come two and a half hours by transit to our poetry night because someone had given her daughter a flier, and we had some ladies come the other day because someone had given a lady's husband a flier back in March. God is working where we can't see it, and He let us in on a little of what He's doing.
  • God has opened a door for me to work with a girl on Wednesday nights, taking her through my mom's Chronological Bible Discipleship material.
  • God has opened a door for me to team-teach on Mondays this month through Proverbs at Young Adults.

Prayer requests

  • Please pray for my health. The changing weather is giving me massive, debilitating headaches.
  • Please continue to pray for favor with the Iranian community and for effective strategies to reach them.
  • Please pray for God's blessing on these Bible studies and that the Scripture would bear its fruit.
  • Please pray for opportunities to share the gospel and for faith in the gospel in the face of the spiritual darkness here.
Thank you for praying for me!

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