Sunday, August 16, 2009

The A-Team

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

-- Acts 4:13

What do The Dirty Dozen, The Bad News Bears and The A-Team have in common? These late night cable TV staples share the same general plot about a group of unlikely misfits who – one way or another – work together to overcome significant obstacles and achieve victory. They face numerous setbacks along the road. But they eventually rally behind their leader, beat long odds and accomplish the improbable. It’s a classic, feel-good storyline that never seems to grow old.

And it really IS an old storyline: at least 2,000 years-old, to be specific.

The “script” here is the New Testament: the second half of the Bible. Much of its real-life plot also revolves around a group of unlikely and unremarkable characters who finally learn from their all-knowing leader (Jesus) and literally alter history. We read in the Gospels that these mundane individuals were Christ’s hand-picked followers. Some were fishermen, one was a tax collector and another (Simon the Zealot) might be considered a terrorist by today’s standards! Think of them as the original Dirty Dozen.

The apostles were a dubious group for such an important assignment: changing the world for Christ’s kingdom one person at a time. But since it’s a mission that continues to this day, maybe it’s not so surprising that God still chooses society’s outsiders and those who tend to fade into the crowd.

Some modern-day Christ-followers work for insurance companies, supermarkets, retail stores, and banks. Others are homemakers, sales representatives, police officers, and marketing executives. And many are between jobs, retired or work part-time. But for all their differences, they share a critical unifier. It’s a fervent belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And it’s this same common faith that helps them share the joys and overcome the different struggles, disappointments and even tragedies encountered during their unique faith-journeys. Along the way, these seekers have also learned another vital lesson: their own strength and wisdom is worth little towards surmounting the world’s obstacles. But this is to their advantage.

“That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties,” the Apostle Paul proclaims. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

And indeed God does much with the weaknesses of Everyday-Joes. Families are fed, clothed and housed through their contributions and work in local food pantries, the Salvation Army and similar organizations. The sick are cured through the efforts of health care professionals who also happen to trust Jesus. And still other Christ-followers teach the illiterate to read and the undereducated to gain critical life and job skills.

That’s a very brief list of the ways Jesus changes the world when His followers act as His eyes, hands and feet. As the A-Team’s leader -- Colonel Hannibal Smith – so aptly puts it in every episode: “I love it when a plan comes together!”

And no doubt so does God.

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