Summary: The people God chooses may be flawed, but we are living, breathing examples of the grace and scope of God's power.

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Title: Not the Smartest Bulb in the Room?

Text: Mark 1:14-20 (I Corinthians 1:24-31)

Thesis: The people Jesus chooses may be flawed, but we are living, breathing examples of the grace and scope of God’s power.


This morning we read from Mark 1:16-20 about how Jesus recruited or called or drafted his first disciples. Luke 5 is something of a cross-reference for Mark 1. Then in Luke 6 there is a list of the 12 Jesus chose to be his apostles. Have you ever wondered… why them?

It is fairly clear that Jesus did not network through LinkedIn. It is clear that Jesus did not hire a head-hunter to glean the most impressive individuals from the pool of potential disciples. The Scripture does say that Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples (followers) and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Luke 6:12-13

Someone asked, “If you were Jesus and intent on building a cohort of spiritual ninjas, wouldn’t you choose the best of the best, the smartest of the smart?” (Homiletics, Volume 27. Number 1, page 41)

I you were Jesus wouldn’t you recruit a cadre of geniuses like the cast of Scorpion, a high octane drama about an eccentric genius with an IQ of 197 named Walter and his team of brilliant misfits who are Homeland Security’s last line of defense against high-tech and complex threats in our country today? Wouldn’t you want Toby, an expert behaviorist; Happy, a mechanical prodigy; Sylvester, a statistics guru and Paige, who is a regular person who helps the misfits relate to normal people, to help save the world?

If you were Jesus wouldn’t you draft Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter , Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali and perhaps even Barry Kripkei (Bawey Kwipkei) to be the brains of your outfit?

Jesus seemed to just go with his gut as the Spirit led choosing people who would be examples of the grace and scope of God’s power?

Last week we spoke of how God displays the light and life of Jesus in common, everyday, earthen vessels. And today we see how God, contrary to all conventional wisdom, it is not necessarily through the brightest bulbs in the room, the most powerful movers and shakers or the notable 1 %ers… that God does his thing.

As we begin to unpack the text we see a messed up church full of people plagued by what we might think of as a “party spirit.”

I. Personalities and Party Spirit, I Corinthians 1:10-19 (I Corinthians 3)

Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I am a follower of Apollos” or I am a follower of Peter,” or “I am a follower of Christ.” I Corinthians 1:12

The church at Corinth, among many other things, was a church in conflict. Paul is writing to them urging them to live in harmony with each other. The harmony Paul describes is like the work of a physician who knits a broken body together… setting shattered bones and putting dislocated limbs back into their sockets so they were not a broken and divisive body.

The word Paul used to describe their conflict is divisions, dissensions and differences is a word that we would interpret as schisms. In its original meaning the word was used for tearing a piece of clothing. One schism that was dividing this church was what some might call a party-spirit. The schism was over to which party the members belonged.

On Tuesday evening we all had the opportunity to see the party-spirit in action during the State of the Union Address. We watched as President Obama delivered his address… seated on his right was Vice President, Joe Biden and on his left was Speaker of the House, John Boehner. (I don’t know if you noticed both the Vice President’s and the Speaker’s ties were crooked? Don’t they look in the mirror? Doesn’t someone make sure they are ready for prime-time television where the entire nation and much of the world will be watching?)

Setting the actual address aside, the occasion makes for pretty interesting theater. One side stands up and claps while the other remains seated and refrains from clapping. Rarely is there agreement on both sides of the aisle. It isn’t difficult to see partisanship at work in a divided house.

We understand what it means to disagree ideologically. We understand personal preferences differ. We understand deep-seated prejudices. And know well how differences can be detrimental to ourselves and to the well-being of the whole.

Party spirit is not just a national problem. Unfortunately, conflict and party spirit has historically menaced the Christian Church…

A man was stranded on the proverbial desert island in the Pacific for years. One day a boat came sailing into view and the man waved frantically hoping to get the skipper’s attention. The boat landed on the beach and the skipper got out to greet the castaway.

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