Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In defense of ordinary

Growing up in church, I have heard nearly hundreds of times a phrase that goes something like this: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. As an idea well grounded in Biblical truth, I have no problem with this statement. I do have to wonder, however, why I have never heard a sermon on how God uses ordinary people to do ordinary things. We all know that Moses and David were ordinary men who did extraordinary things....that is...if you consider growing up in Pharoah's court or rescuing lambs from lions' jaws ordinary (I'm not planning on attempting the second one any time soon).

I have a theory that ordinary gets a bad rap. I know this because I need look no further than myself. Like most aspiring preachers, I have a nearly obsessive tendency to compare myself with others, and because of that, I am often subjected to lengthy internal lectures (from the Holy Spirit I presume) on why comparing myself to others is not a good idea. One of the things I have been hearing on the inside over and over is this simple statement: For every Peter and Paul, there are a hundred widows with two mites. In other words, God uses ordinary people to do ordinary things -but ordinary things really matter.

One of the most striking characteristics of Jesus' teachings is his uncanny ability to make heroes out of ordinary chaps like you and me-a housewife searching for a lost coin, a good Samaritan helping an unfortunate traveler, a stoned-out prodigal making his journey home, a laid off estate-planner ensuring his financial future, a generous boss compensating his last-minute hired hands, an individual giving a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple.

I have a hunch that God is far more interested in ordinary things than we are. If this is true, and I think it is, I wonder how this realization can change the way we view our lives? This may be another hunch, but I think that a life of contentment and service to others may not be as ordinary as we might think.


Pete said...

Funny you should write about this. When I first started teaching I thought that God had blessed me to be an extraordinary teacher. More and more, I'm realizing that I'm really a pretty ordinary teacher presenting the same material in much the same way as for hundreds of years. What makes it extraordinary is WHAT I'm getting to teach, not how well I present it. That was a weird one for my mind to wrap around because it's easy to assume that in order to be a great pastor, one would have to be a great speaker above all other things. Realistically though, that's pretty far down the Top 10 list of characteristics needed. The ones that are more important seem to be what most people would consider ordinary Christian characteristics. Funny huh? So yeah, I enjoyed this post.

toby said...

the main point of a sermon i once heard was this: be Ananias.

who was Ananias and why should we be like him? Ananias was the man who received Saul/Paul into his household after his encounter with the Lord. Ananias is not written about in any other situation except that he listened to God and obeyed Him by taking Paul in for a few days. (note, there is another Ananias who lied to the Holy Spirit and then dropped dead because of it. but i'm not talking about him).

it was a rather mundane action if you don't look at the context. remarkable? only in that a Christian invited into his home a Christian-hunter. critical? absolutely.

the point is that maybe ananias did nothing else notable in his life. but he was there at the right time and he did was God asked him to do.