Unlikely Disciples 2019

1 Sam 16 1-13—Aug 4, 2019

Seeing a guy on his knees searching for something in the light of a streetlamp, a cop stepped up to him and asked him what he was looking for.

“I lost my car keys”, said the man, still on his knees, groping around on the pavement.

“Are you sure you lost them over here?” the cop asked.

“No, I lost them over there where my car is parked but the light is much better here,” the man replied.

Isn’t it typical of our own search for answers in life at times? Our answers mostly lie in places that are daunting, even scary, to navigate. Yet we persist in seeking answers in the easy and safe places.

The worst thing in the world is to stop searching for whatever reason.

Some of us give up and hold onto what we have, never exerting ourselves any further in the continuum of life.

Others believe they have arrived in the Promised Land and know everything. These people believe they have all the objective truth in hand. They have all the answers. What more is there to learn?

Neither path leads us to a place of growth. Neither path expands our reservoir of wisdom.

Our tour guide on past trips to Africa with groups from here always begins his tour with these words; “This is Africa. Expect the unexpected.” Inevitably his words come true. The tour has to adapted by unexpected events. At the most unlikely of times nature presents the most incredible drama.

When King Saul, the first King of Israel, literally goes nuts—stir crazy, the story tells us how God sends his prophet to point out the next king called to follow in Saul’s footsteps.

As was the belief back then, God decided who would rule and then sent a prophet to seal the deal by anointing the candidate with oils. Pretty strange to us but very significant to people back then.

Strangely the prophet Samuel was sent to Jesse, the one with all the great-looking sons. When instructed to bring his sons before the prophet Jesse lined them up, one would expect, from most probable to least.

The first comes before the prophet and the prophet looks at him and goes; “Na—I don’t think so.”

Seven times Samuel is presented with the finest looking young men from Bethlehem, and every time he turns them down.

“Are you sure that’s all you’ve got”, he asks Jesse.

And nearly forgotten, as a kind of afterthought, he remembers his youngest son, David. Jesse almost apologetically mentions David, “…but he is just a young kid tending our sheep”.

We are told that David was not much of an Adonis when it came to looks. In fact, it is written that when Goliath looked down upon David, “He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed.”

But that “apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed” kid was God’s choice to lead God’s people and lead them he did. Sometimes with brilliance and sometimes in the dumbest, most pathetic way imaginable. But David became the symbol of what it is that God can do with the most unlikeliest among us.

David became the pillar of his people. After him he was the standard of all the best that had ever come into the life of Israel. It is very important to remember that the New Testament, the Gospels, present Jesus as the new King David.

Think about it…born in Bethlehem, from where David was. The genealogy in Matthew providing evidance that Jesus’ linage is traced back to David.

Probably the most beloved character from the entire Old Testament, David stands out as an example of what the most unlikely among us can do.

Fast forward to the disciples. If you were in Jesus’ shoes, would you be recruiting your inner circle from among illiterate fishermen? And Jesus, born in Nazareth. When one of the first disciples, Philip, rushed to his best friend Nathanial and excitedly told him:

“We have found the Messiah and he’s from Nazareth”, Nathanial scoffingly chokes out the words… “and what good can come from that backwater place?”

Is it just chance that left us these stories of unlikely figures who rose to become the sons and daughters of God, changing the lives of people and the world as we know it?

I think not. So, when you look at yourself and ask yourself; “what can I do”…be reminded that you are God’s Beloved and you are endowed with God’s love. Do not underestimate your place here in this community of faith or in the place you find yourself in.

We cannot all be Davids, or Mother Theresas, but we can be ourselves. And we are all called to be disciples of Jesus. No one gets a pass.

May we covenant with one another to be slow to judge those in whom we see little potential and be open to see God’s work done by the most unlikely among us in the most effective ways. Do not be surprised that God may be calling you to step up your game in this ongoing saga of life. Amen.