Summary: God has chosen to save the nobodies of the world so that all boasting will be eliminated except boasting in Him.

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31

A British parlor maid named Gladys Aylward grew up among the poor of England, and because of a learning disability, dropped out of school and become a domestic servant for a well-to-do British family. Her job demanded long hours, hard work, and low pay. When she was in her late twenties, she was riding a bus, reading a newspaper. There was an article about the need for missionaries in China. From that moment on, Gladys’s heart was broken for China, and she resolved to go herself. She applied to the board of the China Inland Mission, but they turned her down. Crushed with disappointment, she returned to her small upstairs room, opened her purse, and turned in upside down. Two pennies fell onto her Bible. She said, “O God, here’s my Bible! Here’s my money! Here’s me! Use me, God.” She started scrimping and saving every penny she earned, and she finally determined that while she could never save enough to travel to China by ship, she could scrape together enough for a train ticket across Europe and Asia, a dangerous crossing because of a war blazing on the Manchurian border.

The day finally came when a few bewildered friends and family members gathered at London’s Liverpool Station to see her off. She traveled from England across the Channel to the Hague, across Europe to Moscow, and across Siberia toward China. Bundled in an overcoat and orange frock, Gladys carried her bedroll, two suitcases (one stocked with food), and a bag clanking with pots and pans. Day and night the train pressed on into the frigid, Siberian wasteland, and finally stopped in the dead of night in the middle of the wasteland, at the war zone. The other passengers, all soldiers, disembarked and headed in the direction of gunfire. Gladys got off and starting trudging back, suitcases in hand, the way the train had come and nearly died before she found the nearest station.

By sheer determination Gladys Aylward finally arrived in China and moved in with an older single missionary woman --- who, as it turned out, didn’t quite know what to do with her.

To make a long story short, Gladys Aylward, parlor maid from England, became one of the most famous missionaries of the twentieth century, a woman who has been called “the most noted single woman missionary in modern history.” A popular biography about her was made into a movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She was featured in an episode of television’s “This Is Your Life.” She dined with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She traveled the world, speaking in some of America’s greatest churches.

Gladys once said, “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. There was somebody else . . . I don’t know who it was --- God’s first choice. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. . . . And God looked down . . . and saw Gladys Aylward” (Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes, pp. 459-460).

However, I would have to disagree with Miss Aylward. I don’t believe she was God’s second, third, or fourth choice. I believe she was God’s first choice. Why do I think that? Because God delights in saving and using the nobodies of the world.

TITLE: The Chosen Nobodies: part 2 of the series, The Foolishness of God

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Many of you probably have childhood memories of teams being picked before a game of baseball or soccer. The biggest and the best are always picked first. Maybe some of you experienced the embarrassment of being picked last. You were considered the least athletic or the least popular. You hoped that just once you wouldn’t be picked last, but every time it was the same --- last. But God isn’t like us. The kid who always is picked last on the playground is the one whom God would pick first.

PROPOSITION: God has chosen to save the nobodies of the world so that all boasting will be eliminated except boasting in Him.


A. God doesn’t save many of the wise, influential, and wealthy people of the world (v. 26).

Paul wants the Corinthians to recall what they were before they were saved. He says to them, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.” What were they? Paul states, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many influential; not many were of noble birth.”

The Corinthians had a problem with pride. Paul writes in 4:18, “Some of you have become arrogant,” and he declares in 5:2, “You are proud.” So to combat the sin of pride, Paul reminds the Corinthians of their humble past. No many of them were “wise,” “influential,” or “of noble birth.” “By human standards” they were nobodies.

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