Sermons

Summary: A comparison of God’s Human Resources policy with that of worldly employers

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Our society is obsessed and fascinated by celebrities. People who are talented at singing or acting or sport. People who look good, who are impressive, who have a ‘presence’ about them. They are seen as the cream of society. The very best, envied, but also desired. We cannot get enough of them, not only do we see them doing what they were originally famous for, but there celebrity status takes on a life of its own. They are popular and chosen because of their abilities and their looks.

It is just the same in other areas of life. Anyone had a job interview? An advert is placed in the job centre or in the paper and people apply. They then start looking for the best applicant, the one with the most experience, who looks like they would be able to do the job the best. Searching questions are asked of the candidates, who are encouraged to ‘sell themselves’. The job as then given to the person who seems to be the most able, the best of the candidates. Sometimes we even hear of people taking employers to court because they were not given a job or promotion and they believed that the person who did get it were not as good as they were. The whole question that is asked is “Who is the strongest candidate?”

In so many areas of life we look for the person with the most ability, the most gifted to do the job. Even in the Church we are obsessed with ‘giftings’. Whenever there is a role in the corps or in the Church to fulfil, we look for the person with the right gifting. When we are looking for candidates for Salvation Army officership we look for a ‘platform presence’.

Now let’s look at the apostle Paul. A man specially called and chosen to formulate the gospel theologically, to take it to the non-Jewish nations. Surely here would be a supremely gifted, impressive and confident individual. A man we would expect to have it all sorted. Probably to have the looks of a glossy magazine celebrity. But instead we get this:-

2 Cor 10:10

He was clearly not a great orator. He did not have a clever turn of phrase – on at least one occasion a member of his congregation dozed off to sleep and fell out of a window in the middle of his sermon. In short he had no ‘platform presence’. Generally he seems to have been someone who would not merit a second glance – contemporary sources describe him as bald, bow-legged, stammering. In fact quite an ordinary, even weak individual. About as far away from a celebrity type as you could get.

So why did God chose him? There was much more promising material around. Talented and gifted people, better speakers. People who looked impressive, who had a ‘platform presence’.

To make matters worse for Paul, he had done his best to destroy God’s Church. Surely here was a man who would be the last to be called by God to lead his people and to take the gospel to the nations. Surely God would have the sense to choose somebody who could at least preach!

But Paul was God’s man, what’s more the Lord gave him especially privileged visions and knowledge that no other humans received.

2 Cor 12:1-6

What a senseless thing for God to do.

That was Paul, but let’s look at Gideon for another example. His people were overrun by their old enemies, their country was in subjugation, they were little better than slaves in their own land. Anything of value they possessed was carried off as plunder. Obviously an experienced general with a big army was required to bring them freedom. Somebody with a proven track-record of successful leadership. But no, God chose Gideon, a young man with no military or leadership experience and zero self-confidence.

It seems that God keeps making the same mistake – choosing hopeless, untalented, inexperienced, unimpressive people to do his work. Surely he should at least check their CVs and interview them – like any other employer - then he would see that they are going to be useless and he could pick somebody who could do the job, somebody impressive, with experience, who knows what they are doing. Fortunately the Church often corrects these mistakes and makes sure that only the best people are trusted with God’s tasks and leadership.

But perhaps he does it on purpose. Maybe he does make deliberately daft Human Resources decisions. Could this be a matter of divine policy?

1 Cor 1:25-31

Here we see God’s HR policy. Deliberately choosing candidates who have nothing to offer him, who cannot do very much, do not have very many skills. Who have no self-confidence. Who are not impressive, have no celebrity factor. In fact, the opposite of that of most employers.

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