Rise up and build!

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before Him.

Jesus came into a simpler time and called simple fishermen to lay down their nets and become fishers of men. He did not call them because of their natural abilities, or because they were great thinkers or impressive public speakers. He called them to display the power and glory and mercy of God. They had nothing in themselves to boast about; it was all about what God had done in them and would do through them.

God didn’t choose the high and mighty! He chose simple men, and foolish, weak, and lowly things. What were some of these “things” Paul was referring to? The “foolish” things included the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ – which the world calls foolish fables. The “weak” things included Christ’s suffering and death – the world only values physical strength and political power. The “lowly” things included Christ’s birth in a stable and His itinerant poverty – He travelled extensively while owning nothing but the clothes on His back.

The Father chose His Son to become humility incarnate, and His Son chose simple men to carry on His work once He ascended into heaven. Despite all that – despite beginning from practically nothing … by the power of God’s grace … the testimony of these fishermen and tax collectors overcame all the philosophy of learned scholars and detailed regulations of religious authorities … and they changed the world!

It all started when Jesus called them, each one, personally. When He called they answered. They didn’t just give up fishing; they gave up the desire to earn and own. They laid down the dream of having a business of their own one day, of owning a fancy home with a two-camel garage. They sacrificed a life of work and sweat pursuing their own benefit for a life of work and sweat proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, catching human souls in its net and rescuing them from eternal death and hell. Their new job wasn’t any easier, but it was much more rewarding!

The world has drifted far from the course that Jesus established. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6a). But God doesn’t want a single person to be eternally lost, so He continues today to call men and women to serve Him as the apostles did. You are one of them. Your call may not be to the “office” of an evangelist, but it is a call to serve the Lord with the gifts He has given you. And just like these fishermen your response requires two things: sacrifice, and work.

Scripture says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), but it also says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

He will supply all our needs – some of them through promises – that we may be partakers of His divine nature. What is one of the first aspects of the divine nature that we see in Scripture? We see it in the first chapter of the first book, Genesis 1: He is a Creator. God creates, and He wants us to participate in that same nature.

Think of it this way: imagine God has called you as a carpenter, to make furniture for the Lord and for others. God is not a carpenter, He is the Creator. He doesn’t make furniture, He creates trees having an amazing diversity of wood. He provides trees and has given you tools so you can fashion beautiful, useful furniture out of that wood – so don’t sit on the couch expecting God to drop a table and four chairs at your doorstep.

Your part is to rise up and use what God has given you, both your gifts/talents and His promises. God has given you skills and tools to develop and use, and as you do so He will deliver the materials you need … but you must rise up and build!

Word of God: speak!

Non nobis Domine+

by Fr. Dana Jackson

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