As kids, to play softball or kickball or whatever team sport, we would choose captains and those captains would then alternate back and forth, taking turns, choosing team members. “Pick me, pick me.” Back and forth, choosing the best, the strongest, the most talented, the fastest, the most popular. No one wanted to be last.
And some of you know what it felt like to be chosen last: you were the smallest, weakest, uncoordinated, you couldn’t hit the ball, or the ball hit you once and you now you didn’t want anything to do with that ball.
The story of the birth of Christ is also includes the story of mother Mary, a young woman maybe 13 years of age, who was engaged to be married, and is chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.
This is the story of God choosing the lowly, the poor, the humble; of God choosing the ordinary and doing the extraordinary. Of God choosing the least suspecting, the least deserving. Of God choosing the person we would choose last, if we were captain and choosing a winning team.
The Apostle Paul describes who we were when God chose us.
1 Corinthians 1.26-29
God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
God is the extra in this equation. It is his choosing, his power that makes the ordinary extraordinary.
"Humility is not trying to be humble; it’s not trying to be little; humility is just seeing God as he is; pride is seeing ourselves as we are not." -Louie Giglio
As we grow in our understanding of the greatness of God and the vastness of his power, we see ourselves for who we really are.
The Apostle Paul’s downward spiral:
1 Corinthians 15.9 (written in AD 59)
I am the least of the apostles
Ephesians 3.8 (written in AD 63)
I am the very least of all the saints
1 Timothy 1.15 (written in AD 64)
I am the foremost of sinners
Paul was a gifted preacher and missionary, and he was full of energy and determination, but as the years pass, Paul thinks of himself less and less, so his praise and adoration for the God who wonderfully saved him rises.
"Humility is not thinking less of yourself; but thinking of yourself less." -Rick Warren
Worship is thinking about God, concentrating on God, who he is and what he has done.
Matthew 19.16-30 The Rich Young Ruler
After Jesus’ encounter with the rich, young ruler:
27Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
The mother of James and John asks Jesus, "Can my sons sit one at your right, one at your left?"
Jesus repsonds to them, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
According to tradition ten of the twelve disciple died a martyr’s death; and John was persecuted severely.
1 Samuel 16.1-13
After Saul’s death, the prophet-priest Samuel goes to Jesse’s house to anoint a new king. When Samuel sees Eliab he knows for sure this must be God’s chosen one. He looks like a king!
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
With God, it’s not deserving to be chosen, it’s about being willing to serve; it’s not about getting a reward, it’s about giving. It’s not about what we see with our human eyes; it’s about what God sees, it’s all about the heart.
Looking at Mary once again,
Earlier in Luke 1 when the angel Gabriel appears and tells her she is going to bear the Christ child, her only response is:
"I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said."
Her response is a humble act of submission.
Whatever you want God, here I am. Do with me as you please. I am at your service.
We too, do not earn the right to be chosen. But God says, "I choose you."
May we, as ordinary people, offer our whole selves, to the God who can do extraordinary things through us.