God of the Least Likely
Sermon shared by Jim Kilson
Summary: With our obsession with choosing only the “best” for our teams, it seems somewhat surprising to us who God chooses for His team; the team tasked with carrying out the supreme task of the church.
Series: The Gospel Unleashed
Denomination: Christian/Church of Christ
Audience: General adults
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INTRODUCTION: Have you ever been picked first for something? Have you ever been picked last? We all love to be picked first! Admit it, it’s the truth (High Point Softball League) Everyone knows that the key to victory in any sport is recruiting, be it football, basketball, baseball, even curling! Early on in life we learn the importance of picking a good team, our schoolyard games are evidence of that fact. The group selects two captains who then choose team members. In doing so people’s feeling aren’t really considered, you start with the best and go from there. The same is true in the movies and on television, with any team; from the Magnificent 7 to the A-Team the key to their success was having the right people at the right time. Even the Marines make it clear that they don’t want everyone, they only want the “few” and the “proud”
PROPOSITION: With our obsession with choosing only the “best” for our teams, it seems somewhat surprising to us who God chooses for His team; the team tasked with carrying out the supreme task of the church.
BACKGROUND: It’s a truth that cannot be denied; if we were tasked with building a team of missionaries for the first century, Saul of Tarsus wouldn’t even make the “long list.” Any we all know why. Up to this point he’s been the Churches most vocal critic. We know more about the life of this many than almost any other character from Scripture. Saul was from the city of Tarsus in what is modern day Turkey, it was a Roman city, therefore Saul was by birth a Roman “citizen” a fact that would prove most valuable later in his life. He was a Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin, and his parents were deeply devout Jews, devoted to God to the point that they dent their son to Jerusalem to study. Here in Jerusalem he would come under the influence and tutelage of one of the most well respected Rabbi of that century, Gamaliel.
To say that Saul was a bright student would be the understatement of the century! He was the best of the best, the top of the class. He was the brightest hope for the future leadership of the party of the Pharisees. Like most other Pharisees, Saul supported the crucifixion of Jesus, whether he was a witness to Jesus’ death we don’t know. When the Jesus movement, this “Pentecost community” began to grow, Saul made it his mission to stop it at all cost. Saul even led the troops a the assassination of Stephen (Acts 7:58)
Saul became the High Priest’s point man in the systematic de-Christianization of Jerusalem. Saul wasn’t satisfied in just driving the Christians out of Jerusalem; he wanted the complete and utter destruction of this movement. So we’re not surprised that when he learns that there is a Christian community in Damascus, that he goes to the High Priest and obtains extradition papers to bring these heretics back to Jerusalem to stand trial.
TRANSITION: But something happens to Saul on his journey of extermination… something that will change the direction of his life forever, he becomes an unlikely candidate…
I. AN UNLIKELY CANDIDATE
a. Saul was the last person anyone would choose to be a Christian missionary, but that’s exactly the direction that God, in His infinite wisdom, calls this man
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