Chapel: You’re in Team Jesus’ starting lineup
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
Billy Thrall, director of CityServe and HopeFest in Phoenix, tied the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season on Monday to his Chapel message that Jesus doesn’t play in the minor leagues and has no second string on his team of Good News bearers.
“Jesus says, ‘I pick you,’” said Thrall, basing his message on Luke 24:45. “Jesus says, ‘You are my witnesses, you are my starting lineup, I’m going to use you to transform the planet.’”
The Phoenix native began his talk by taking the audience back in time to his sixth-grade year at Royal Palm School. Thrall didn’t like school, was insecure and afraid, and despised the music lessons his parents forced him to take. But he was too small to play sports, at least successfully. His sixth-grade classroom resembled “a band of misfits,” he said, a collection of students with physical and emotional issues, a wonderful teacher and an athletic kid named Joe.
Joe was named the captain of the classroom’s flag football team, and one day he chose Thrall (“I don’t know if he had a headache”) as his co-captain. The team proceeded to win every competition that year – football, baseball, track and field, everything.
“That’s how Jesus rolls,” Thrall said.
Rather than choosing the wealthiest, smartest and most powerful people as His witnesses, Jesus chose the fishermen with gnarled hands and stinky clothes, the carpenters with dirt under their nails, the lowly prostitutes and the tax collectors whom everyone despised.
“Jesus says, ‘We’re going to change the planet, transform the universe forever, and I pick them,’ and the rest of the world said, ‘No way,’” Thrall said.
Fast forward 2,000 years, and God is doing the same thing. “There are people in our culture who have been beat up in the world, they don’t fit in, they’ve got disabilities, they’ve got a different skin color, they are so full of shame, so hurt, and they don’t know who to trust,” Thrall said.
“God is the Good News for these kinds of people,” he said, “but really it’s good news for you because you are these people, too. You are that person who at some point in your life felt you had no right to be sitting here. You are that person who would be disqualified from being awesome for something you did.”
And if you think you’re pretty awesome, he said, “You are not awesome because you’re awesome, you’re awesome because Jesus called you, and then you became pretty awesome.”
The amazing thing is that Jesus isn’t put off by sinners, Thrall noted. “He enters into your reality, moves into your neighborhood. He tabernacles with you, and He says, ‘I’m always wanting a relationship with you, and I’ll fix that other stuff later.’”
Often, when Thrall tells people they’ve been chosen for the first string of Jesus’ Team, they reply that they are “just” a guitar player/auto mechanic/fill in the blank. What can they do? Everyone can befriend a lonely person, pray for them and, he said, “lead with what you are struggling at, celebrate what you are good at.”
“There’s no such thing as ‘just’ on Team Jesus,” Thrall said. “There are no bench players.”
Contact Janie Magruder at 639.8018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.