MARK 1:14–20 ESV
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.”
Draft Day, Deshaun Watson leaves Clemson University and is drafted to the Houston Texans. That was a proud moment for my hometown, to see one of our own that we watched grow up be drafted into the NFL. I loved watching Deshaun in that moment because it was no different than other times when we had seen him overcome. The young man has perspective. His tears are the proof that he feels what is going on and that he knows how blessed he is. The whole world saw that, but thats not why he cried. He’s a humble guy who believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He’s a fine young man.
Deshaun Watson spent the last couple years putting the Clemson Tigers on top as their outstanding quarterback. He piloted that team with an outstanding coach, Dabo Swinney. Coach Swinney is a Christian man, who wanted to make sure that Deshaun’s faith was maintained throughout this college football career. That’s rare.
Deshaun was a high prospect draft choice for the NFL for several reasons. He is a versatile quarterback, with the ability to execute consistently, throw with both distance and accuracy, make successful split second decisions, and was a natural leader on the field. He maintained his cool and kept his head in the game. But another factor that made him a prime choice for any team was his leadership and character off the field.
Deshaun is a low-risk player, meaning that his chances of making poor moral decisions and getting himself or others into trouble is extremely low. In fact, Deshaun proved throughout both his high school and college career to be a player who increased the leadership level of other players around him.
I want you to look at this picture. This is a dear friend of ours, Leslie Wallace and two of their three children. Seth and Leslie are missionaries in the Mediterranean Sea, serving the last 6 years on the island of Cyprus. We’ve been supporting them ever since Leslie and Ashley worked together as teachers and Leslie’s entire family felt the call to serve Jesus through long-term missions. Leslie, her husband Seth, and their son and two daughters, left the States to embark on missions to bring Christian education to those who had no chance of growing in the gospel. This is them this past Friday after having come home, celebrating our Home Town Hero, Deshaun.
Now, here’s a picture of Deshaun at his home church, Free Chapel in Gainesville, with one of his pastors, Pastor Michael Thurmond, a good high school buddy of mine. Michael and I grew up together from the first grade through high school. He has seen many challenges throughout his life and just a few short years ago accepted a call to be a light in the Gainesville area through spreading the gospel of Christ as a local evangelist. You will find Michael EVERYWHERE! His social media presence is unmatched, as he posts pictures of prayers walks, devotional times, and photos of the good folks of Gainesville making a difference. You can throw a rock in any direction and hit Pastor Michael.
What do these three examples have in common? They all love the Lord and are committed to His work. What do they all have in common with you? They would tell you that there is nothing special about them, but that Jesus was doing special things with them. These folks understand what it means to get in the game. They have been drafted, not because of their abilities, but because of God’s ability to use the willing. Jesus is inviting you to drop the nets in your life and take up His work.
We worry about whether or not we can do something or whether or not we would be good at something. But in the end, its about what God wants to do within you. Many of you have heard this quote, I myself heard it in college for the first time: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls.
Deshaun has a natural talent for sports, but its God’s grace that makes him a successful and humble leader. The Wallaces are smart strategists, but its the hope that God has given them that makes their missions work and their message sink in. Pastor Michael knows his community and everyone in it, but its the gospel that makes his connections significant and eternal.
Jesus drafted a few disciples, who would in turn draft more disciples. It was a multiplication process that developed leaders everywhere. There was nothing extremely special about those Jesus chose, only that they were willing to drop what they were doing and get in the game. They believed in what Jesus was doing. They knew that the world was hurting and that it needed a Savior, and so they spend the rest of their days telling others about Jesus, showing them Jesus in the way they spoke, the way the lived. They were living examples of the living Savior.
What we want for you over the next few weeks is to find your role, your place in the ministry of Jesus Christ, both here and beyond. It's time for you to get in the game, to understand that its Draft Day, a time when the Church is saying, “We want YOU to play for us.” We have many positions on our team and there is a place for everyone.
But we also want you to know that we need you now. There is an very important urgency that is required in Christian discipleship. Waiting puts many at risk, both in regard to temporal needs and eternal consequences. We want you. We need you. Will you get in the game?
There’s a scripture I want to share with you. It comes from Matthews gospel, 9:35-38, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."”
The Lord wants you in the game. The harvest is His game. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers, the players are few. Will you join the team? Will you get in the game? Amen.