NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Fans of the National Football League look forward to “draft day” with great anticipation, when teams choose players from the new crop of college athletes. The success or failure of an NFL team can hinge on the events of this monumental day.
Fred Luter, speaking at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on Sept. 3, utilized this imagery to explore another draft day. Using John 15:16 as his text, Luter contrasted the way NFL teams choose their players to the way that God chooses those who will become a part of his team.
For 16 years Luter has pastored Franklin Avenue Baptist Church near NOBTS and is a frequent speaker on the seminary campus. A popular preacher at conferences across the country, in 2000 he became the first African American pastor to preach the keynote sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention.
“God chose us to be players on his team,” Luter stated. “What did he see in us? Because if we want to be honest … we were sinners.”
Unlike the athletes selected on draft day, God does not choose members of his team based their abilities or a “scouting report.” God chooses people in spite of their weaknesses and limitations, Luter said.
“He didn’t choose us after we got it together,” he continued. “As a matter of fact, we were so caught up in the world that we didn’t have sense enough to even choose him.”
Describing the things of the world people seek after in place of God, Luter said they often turn to drugs, alcohol, ungodly expressions of sexuality and a host of other sinful behaviors.
“I wasn’t looking for God. Oh, I’m so glad that God was looking for me,” Luter related energetically about his own salvation experience. “In the midst of my sin, in the midst of my wicked ways … I’m glad God was looking for me!”
Moreover, when God chooses his team, he expects the members to be “productive players,” Luter said, noting that God expects believers to show up for “game day” on Sunday morning and to be involved in evangelism and spiritual growth.
Christians are not left to their own strength to be productive, Luter noted. God expects his team to bear fruit in his kingdom based on the fact that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature,” he said, citing 1 Corinthians 5:17.
“God chose us to be persistent players on his team,” Luter added. “You can’t give up in the first quarter, you’ve got to remain…. You can’t even give up in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to remain.”
The Christian life will not be easy, Luter acknowledged. Believers will face opposition and attack from the enemy, but God expects them to remain and to persist.
“His team is not just for first-round draft picks, his team is not just for superstars,” Luter said. “Everybody plays on God’s team. God didn’t draft you to ride the bench.” Every Christian, he said, has a role to play in extending God’s Kingdom and fulfilling the Great Commission.
“He’s given you a spiritual gift and He wants you to use that gift,” Luter said. “He wants you to get in the game…. Put on your uniform and get in the game!”
When an NFL player is drafted, he has no guarantees whether his team will win or lose, Luter said, because winning in the NFL can hinge on who joins the team on draft day. Not so on God’s team, he said; members of God’s team are guaranteed to play on the winning team because he has already won the victory.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FRED LUTER.