Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Daily Devotional: Thursday, July 1 - The Last Pick

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

One of the rites of passages for kids playing sports growing up was the informal playground team draft — two captains get picked, then they informally pick kids one by one. It was a hierarchal system that gave many of us nightmares along the way — the more popular, more athletic kids got picked first; the less popular, less coordinated, less athletic kids got picked last. Those who were far down the draft were less valuable and less needed, while those who were picked at the top were more valuable, or at least so it seemed.

The system of kids picking teammates for kickball in elementary school is not vastly different from how the world values the worth of individuals. Those who bring wealth, valued physical appearances or strong personalities are highly thought of by this world; those who are humble, don’t fit popular physical or stylistic standards, and don’t act as the world would act are often cast aside.

However, it is important to note that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the judgment and value placed upon us by Jesus could not differ more significantly from how the world would judge those around us.

In speaking with the disciples, Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In His life on this earth, Jesus made it very clear that God valued neither wealth, nor talent, nor physical attributes first; instead, He valued hearts who first longed for Him. While Jesus was not against people having wealth, various talents or physical strength, He made it very clear that in all things we should acknowledge Jesus and His goodness. He also clearly marked that society’s hierarchy matters not in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I think often of the shepherds who were tending their sheep when suddenly an angel of the Lord came upon them to tell of the birth of Jesus. If the world’s captains were picking a “team” during the life of Jesus, shepherds surely would have been picked last. The world did not value them; did not think they had much to provide. However, God sent His angels to come to these men, not the elite “first picks” of that society, to tell of the coming of the Son of Man.

I also think of the rich man who came to Jesus looking for information on how to gain eternal life, as told in Mark 10:17-31. This man surely would have been picked early by his peers, if not picked to be their leader. He came to the table with much, or so the world thought. Instead, Jesus showcased how the man’s wealth was of no value in gaining righteousness.

In contrast, Jesus lauded the poor widow who gave two meager coins in Mark 12:43-44. She was cast aside and likely sat against the figurative wall, with the world assuming she would be a last pick because of what worldly goods she provided. But she wasn’t picked last; no, the Savior of the world praised her as a high pick because of the greatness of her love for the Father.

For believers and the body of Christ, it’s easy for us to look at how the world values us and get discouraged. Many of us are rarely picked first for teams; in fact, some of us harbor painful and damaging memories of feeling as if we had little to offer our team, or anyone in general, because of our lack of worldly skills or attributes. What is important to recall, though, is that Jesus has overcome the world. The ways the world judges us are not how Jesus judges us.

Our value and role in the body of Christ will never be understood by this world, nor will it be fully understood by even members of the Church. Instead, we must place our faith and trust in the knowledge that when it comes to our role in the body of Christ, we were God’s first pick to fulfill a role He designed for us before the foundation of the world. We must remember to take heart in the thought that our life matters to God and His plans for this world.

— Jon Oglesby

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