Summary: God's blueprint for His church includes something that makes no sense. God builds His church with losers. The rejects of society. The people no one else wants. Why would He do it that way?
OPEN: In the first part of the 1900s, New York City had two major league baseball teams.
One was called the New York Yankees (obviously)
But in the early 1900’s what was the name of the other team? (NY Giants)
In 1957, the Giants decided they liked the climate better in San Francisco… and they moved.
New York was shocked by this loss of their team and appealed to the National League to allow them to create the first expansion team of the century. In 1962, they got their wish.
What was the name of that team? (NY Mets).
Since its inception, the Mets have won 2 World Series championships and 6 National League pennants.
But things didn’t start out so well.
In their first year (1962), the team lost 120 games. The only thing that stopped that from being an all-time record was that in 1899 the Cleveland Spiders lost more games in a single season than they did.
For the first few years the Mets gained the title of being the lovable losers.
They lost so often that when they beat the Chicago Cubs in May 26th of 1964 by a score of 19 to 1, legend has it that a fan called a NY newspaper to get the score of the game.
When he was told “They scored 19 runs” he allegedly asked:
“Did they win?”
They lost repeatedly because, as a new team, they had to take whatever players they could find. And they ended up with a roster of has-beens and wannabees. They lost their games so often and so miserably that their manager – Casey Stengel - noted:
“The Mets have shown me more ways to lose than I ever knew existed.”
But Stengel never gave up on the lovable losers.
Year after year he kept hammering away at the basics.
He reportedly took the team out for a stroll around the diamond during the 1st practice and he turned to the players and said: "Them are the bases".
He pounded away at the basics again and again… and by 1969 – 7 years after the Mets became a team – they won their first national pennant AND a World Series.
Stengel realized he didn’t have much to work with but eventually he managed to turn the lovable losers into the Marvelous Mets.
He turned a team filled with losers into a team of winners.
And that brings us to the theme of our text this morning:
Titus 3:3-7 tells us the church has always been filled with losers.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Titus 3 declared that God built His church completely from a roster of losers.
And it seems that’s exactly how God has always – and will always - build His church.
Now lots of churches don’t think like that.
There’s lots of churches who prefer to build their congregations on the winners.
They want the big ticket players.
They want only the best.
They seek out the prominent, the powerful and they wealthy
Because… well, no one really wants the LOSERS.
ILLUS: Do you remember what it was like back when you were in Elementary school and choose up teams on the playground? Did you ever notice who the “last ones” picked were? They were the losers. Nobody wanted those kids on their team.
And it’s the same at church.
The losers can’t pay the bills.
The losers can’t help church members impress their friends.
“Hey come to our church. We’re a bunch of losers!”
That just doesn’t have a winning ring to it.
But I can tell you from experience - the moment a church becomes known as the in-place to be… once a congregation becomes a magnet for the rich and famous - they’re going to have problems.
ILLUS: I loved my home congregation. We had great preachers and teachers and that was where I first learned to love Jesus. But it was the “popular church” in town. Anybody who was anybody went to that church – Doctors, Lawyers… we even had a State Senator.
It was kind of the mega-church of its day with over 600 members and they insisted on getting the best of everything.
And as I grew up I watched my home church splinter and shrink. And being popular was part of what destroyed it.