6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Main idea: God’s love is so big that each person is worth more than God’s life itself!

This sermon is by James Choung of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. You are also invited to visit James’ blog at http://www.jameschoung.net/.


What are you worth? What is your value? I tried to find out for myself, so I went to the most reliable source for information in this world: the Internet. (I’m joking.) So, I Googled "what are you worth" and found a website called humanforsale.com, which places a dollar value on your life. When I told my wife, she first said that I was worth a million dollars to her. But I only laughed: "Only a million?" According to the site, I’m worth $3,098,490. Avg. male: $1,826,769. But later she said I was priceless. Aw.

But another person was worth $400 online. On February 8, 2001 at 4:36p, the listing for "20 yr-old Seattle boy’s SOUL, hardly used" was sold on eBay for $400. The soul in question? Adam Burtle, a UW student and part-time automotive technician from Woodinville, WA. He had a picture of himself wearing an "I’m with stupid" T-shirt. He wrote, "Please realize, I make no warranties as to the condition of the soul. As of now, it is near mint condition, with only minor scratches. Due to difficulties involved with removing my soul, the winning bidder will either have to settle for a night of yummy Thai food and cool indie flicks, or wait until my natural death."

The bidding took off in the last hour, when the price shot up from $56 to $400. Burtle, an atheist, said a former girlfriend bid $6.66. He said, "I was happy to be past $7.50."

But others don’t even feel worth that much. They feel quite the opposite. Like Shusako Endo, a revered Japanese Christian who wrote the book "Silence", wrote about being rejected in his home country for believing a "western" religion, and then when he was an international student in France at the end of WWI, and was labeled a "slanty-eyed gook." He felt rejected in his homeland and his spiritual homeland at the same time. Some of us understand what it’s like to feel constantly rejected, blaming our race or looks or personality or bad luck, or even recurring sins. Some of us carry with us always a sense of unworthiness and rejection. You just feel worthless, and at some point, you start believe it.

An outcast: what was he worth? (Mk 5:1-5)

We meet someone who also feels worthless in Scripture. Read Mark 5:1-5. Whether or not you believe in evil spirits, this guy was in bad shape. How did he end up living in tombs? Can you imagine this phone call: "Um, is this Decapolis Real Estate? Yes, I’m looking for some place quiet, with few distractions. But, something affordable. Do you have something like that?" No, he didn’t choose this place. This was the haunt of evil spirits, and nobody would’ve lived there. He’s a nobody, left for dead in a cemetery. What messages of worth do you think he must have received? The townspeople made it very clear: "we’ve picked the right place for you to live: your dead to us!" No wonder he cried out day and night.

Have you ever been rejected like this? Is there something in your life that makes you believe that you are unattractive to others? What does it feel like?

Back when I was younger, I felt like this when my girlfriend broke up with me. I know, it sounds lame now, but back then, it hit me at so many areas. If I couldn’t keep the relationship that I cared about the most, how could I deal with other relationships? How could I be in a profession defined by relationships? I didn’t know what I was good at. I slept in my room during the afternoons, having no energy for anything. I was good for nothing. I felt worthless. Everything I did felt like crap. For many, it must feel like death: to feel worthless in the eyes of someone else.

No one would go near the madman, and they left him for dead. Every townsperson thought he was worth nothing, everyone except for one man.

Jesus knew a man’s worth: it’s worth his own life (Mk. 5:6-20)

Read Mark 5:6-20. Jesus just happens to row up to the place near the tombs. Coincidence? I don’t think so. No normal Jewish person, much less a rabbi, would risk becoming unclean among the dead. They would be unclean merely at the touch of something dead. So why would be here?

As Alan said two weeks ago in our Bible study, "he’s attracted to the unattractive." (He’s also "attractive to the unattractive.") Jesus needs to come because his love compels him. He’s a doctor looking for those who are sick. He had to come out.

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