Serving here now in the latter innings of my ministry career, I can risk being very open about some things that have happened in my life, or not happened. At the beginning, in my Texas years, I had one experience of being overlooked for a position in a church when another, truly less capable person was surprisingly given the job. Soon after, I was granted a position that was so much better, and to this day I look back and marvel about why in the world that church would hire such a young novice like me.
I joke from time to time about my collection of “silver medals” … occasions when I finished in second place, also popularly termed by Dale Earnhart as “the first loser.” It happened to me several times before I came to Tri-State in 1994. And I can now tell you also that on two occasions some years ago I finished second in lead pastor searches by rather large churches. But looking back now, both of those churches have thrived under the leadership of the men selected, and I can say that I am in every way tremendously thankful that God did not send me to those places but allowed me to be in Hagerstown for all of these years.
God opens and closes doors. He has a place in the vineyard for all who love and serve him. Sometimes it is prominent, other times it is supportive and far from the spotlights. But there is joy in both places. There are no losers.
Today’s passage simply lists the names of the 12 disciples that Jesus chose, after a full night of prayer, to especially be with him and to be further designated as apostles. This would mean that they were not only followers, but those who would be sent out on mission.
The choosing of the 12 apostles will be our theme this coming Sunday. Being brief today, let me make the major point that these were not necessarily the guys with the greatest resumes. There was a lot of clay in the feet of these men. You would expect the Messiah to choose religiously-trained individuals or those who had accomplished great things in life to especially round out his A-team. But actually, these are pretty average people … probably like you and me, and that is greatly encouraging.
When called by God and empowered by him, average people can be extraordinary servants in specific places in the Lord’s vineyard. There is a challenge for the New Year!
Luke 6:12-16 – One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.