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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Between ordinary and extraordinary

I've been thinking a lot lately about the phrase, "God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things." While I've written on this topic before in my post, "In Defense of Ordinary" in which I make the point that God uses ordinary people to do ordinary things, but ordinary things really matter. This time I'm coming at it from a different angle and I'd like to enlist my readers for some input.

The problem with the "ordinary people...extraordinary things" idea is that once ordinary people do extraordinary things, then they are no longer considered ordinary, which begs the question whether they were really ever that ordinary to begin with. Another problem is that the examples are so far removed from the every day Christian experience, they hardly seem relevant. Case in point...when was the last time you or I walked on water or healed a crippled person from our shadow? I don't think any of us, at least not anybody I know personally, can call Peter ordinary. If we are honest with ourselves, we'll probably have to admit that normally, God uses "extraordinary" people to do "extraordinary things." In my mind, people like Moses, David, Peter, and Paul fall into this category. This doesn't mean that extraordinary people don't have ordinary faults or don't often come from ordinary beginnings, it just means that extraordinary lives come from extraordinary people.

What I'm lookin at now are examples in the Scriptures in between ordinary and extraordinary. Examples where an ordinary person does something either extraordinary or something just a cut above average, and, yet remains ordinary.

The first example that comes to mind is Ananias. Here is an ordinary disciple who God uses to baptize the Apostle Paul....and then we never hear about him again. To me, Ananias is a perfect example of an individual who falls into the category somewhere in between ordinary and extraordinary. Ananias did something extraordinary, but remained an ordinary person. Could it be that the Holy Spirit put this story in the Bible to show us that even people who are truly ordinary can occasionally do something extraordinary and remain ordinary at the same time? I don't know about you, but I'm glad there are characters like Ananias in the Bible. If all we had were Peters and Pauls and Davids, there really wouldn't be much hope for the vast majority of the human race who long to transcend run-of-the-mill ordinary existence.

I'm sure there are many, perhaps better, stories in the Bible to illustrate this point. Can you think of any?

3 comments:

Pete said...

I actually think that I would state it- "God uses those who let themselves be used in the way God created them to be used to do the things He created them to do". David was never ordinary to God. God had always intended to use David for extraordinary things. David was willing and wanting for God's vision for him to happen. That was the key and I believe it is the key for any "ordinary" people.(sorry Calvinists)
Pete

Joseph Craig said...

I never have really liked the idea to do "extraordinary things" basically for the problem you stated of no longer being ordinary, also if one person is being considered extraordiary than those around them are not doing enough. For example for those who take a vow of poverty or like your pastor friend in Illinois who wont live above his congregation, some might consider them extraordinary but if you ask them they are just doing what the feel is right.

So with that being said I am not against the idea of God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things as a way to help give a good sermon or to teach. But its just my opinion that we should all be just "doing".

toby said...

well, you stole the first character i thought of with your ananias comment. i guess if you counted the countless prophets in the old testament who are just mentioned for a verse or two. their purpose was to deliver a message to the king. sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad. the point is they just had to say something simple and specific to the right person at the right time. nothing extraordinary really; it's like pete said, doing what God wants you to do at the right time.