Summary: We are to follow the example of the disciples to follow Jesus.
Title: Ordinary Men
Text: 1 Corinthians 1.26-29
CT: We are to follow the example of the disciples to follow Jesus.
FAS: A lady, who teaches first grade, told about an interaction she had with one of her students on the first day of school. Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class. She asked him what he was doing. "I'm going home," he replied.
She tried to explain that, now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. "You'll go eat lunch now," she said, "and then you'll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home."
Ryan looked up at her in disbelief, hoping she was kidding. Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, "Who on earth signed me up for this program?"
As believers, it's easy to feel a little like Ryan when we consider the Christian life. The requirements are daunting—"Surely the Lord doesn't expect me to forgive seventy times seven;"
"Surely he doesn't want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;"
"What does he mean, 'take up my cross'?"
It isn't long before you want to say, "Who on earth signed me up for this program?"
Wanda Vassallo, Dallas, Texas
LS: Are we really prepared to follow Jesus? Jesus does expect a lot from us, but what we gain for it overrides the cost.
I am beginning a series today on the Twelve Apostles called Ordinary Men. I have always been amazed at the lives of the twelve apostles. They have personality types that are like men and women familiar to us. They are just like us, and they are like people we know. We can identify with them. Their faults as well as their triumphs are laid out in the Bible in fascinating ways. These are men we desire to know.
They were perfectly ordinary men in every way. They were not famed theologians. In fact they were outside the religious circles of that time. They were not outstanding in what they knew how do to. In fact they were they were always making mistakes. Even Jesus remarked about how they were slow learners (Luke 24.25).
They spanned the political spectrum. One was a former Zealot---a radical determined to overthrow Roman rule. But another had been a tax collector---virtually a traitor to the Jewish nation. These two are going to work together?
At least four and possibly seven were fishermen and close friends from Capernaum. The others may have been tradesman, but we are not told what they did before following Jesus. Most of them were from Galilee, an agricultural area. Galilee remained their home for their ministry–not Jerusalem in Judea, which was the political and religious capital of Israel.
Yet as ordinary as they were these men carried out a ministry after Jesus’ ascension that would leave a remarkable impact on the world. (Acts 17.6).
In his book Practice Resurrection, Eugene Peterson tells the story of a woman named Judith, an artist in textiles. He writes:
Judith had an alcoholic husband and a drug-addicted son. She kept her life and her family together for years by attending twelve-step meetings. One Sunday, when she was about forty years old, she entered the church where I was the preacher. She came at the invitation of some friends she knew from her meetings—"You need to come to church. I'll meet you there." She had never been to church before. She knew nothing about church …. She was well read in poetry and politics and psychology, and knew a great deal of art and artists. But she had never read the Bible….
Something, though, caught her attention when she entered this church, and she continued to come. In a few months she became a Christian and I became her preacher. I loved observing and listening to her. Everything was new: Scriptures, worship, prayer, baptism, Eucharist—church! … [She was so excited]: "Where have I been all my life? These are incredible stories—why didn't anyone tell me these? How come this has been going on all around me and I never knew it!" …
Peterson says that when he moved across the country, he kept in touch with Judith through letters. In his book Peterson shares a portion of one of her letters:
Dear Pastor: Among my artist friends I feel so defensive about my life—I mean about going to church. They have no idea of what I am doing and act bewildered. So I try to be unobtrusive about it. But as my church life takes on more and more importance—it is essential now to my survival—it is hard to shield it from my friends. I feel protective of it, not wanting it to be dismissed or minimized or trivialized. It is increasingly difficult to keep it quiet. It is not as if I am ashamed or embarrassed—I just don't want it belittled.