Can anything good come from there?
Has anybody ever said that about you, your family, or your hometown?
I live in Marlboro County, South Carolina. Those words have often been spoken to me about my home. Many people around us have nothing good to say about us. Sometimes people right here feel that way.
Maybe you have felt that way before about your life. Maybe you feel nothing good has ever come from your life or you feel held down by your past.
“‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'”Micah 5:2, NIV
This prophecy spoke of the coming Messiah, written sometime between 750 and 686 B.C. The prophecy concerned the birth of Jesus, which took place some 700 years later in Bethlehem in Judea (Matthew 2:1-6).
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.”Luke 2:4
Even though Bethlehem was considered “small,” the Messiah claimed it as His birthplace. I bet they didn’t have a mall, a theater, or an Olive Garden (well, actually, there was one nearby), but they had something even better. They ushered in the Savior of the world.
And then there’s Nazareth.
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
“Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘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.’
“‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.
“‘Come and see,’ said Philip.”John 1:43-46
You may have asked yourself that question many times. How can anything good come from my family, my past, my hometown? Well, you’re in good company.
Maybe Jesus didn’t come from a sinful past, but He did come from a long line of sinners. Check out the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:1-17. Pretty sure I saw some pagans, a harlot, and at least one adulterer.
You don’t have to have a stellar background. Maybe you didn’t come from a long line of preachers or church-folks. Maybe you were raised in a home of dysfunction, addiction, or poverty. Maybe you were considered “small” or “least” in school. Maybe you come from a poor town with not a lot to offer.
It really doesn’t matter. Because when Jesus comes in and saves you, He changes you from the inside out. What you were is no longer relevant. Where you came from is past history.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!”2 Corinthians 5:27
Don’t let your past history, background, lack of education, or present location keep you from being on mission with God. He has kingdom-work for each of us to do. All we need is a personal Jesus story, just like those disciples.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.”Acts 4:13
Spend time with Jesus, study His Word, and grow in your faith. Don’t worry about where you came from, just keep moving forward with God.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:12-14
Paul had been a legalistic, pharisaical murderer of Christians. But he put the past behind him and pressed on to work for Jesus. God can use a willing vessel. He can take what little we have to offer and set us on a great adventure with Him to take the Gospel to our world.
Just be faithful with what He’s given you and where He’s placed you–even if it’s Marlboro County.
Are we the least of the least and bottom of the barrel here?
Some may think so.
But can anything good come from here?
Well, some of us are following Jesus. So, just come and see.