Transcending the Ordinary
I just paid the electric bill. This time was no different than any other time. Paying bills is something most of us have to do. Not exactly what we’d call exciting or awe-inspiring. In fact, I’d probably call it boring and meaningless. Life is replete with these kind of moments.
Errands. Taking the dog out. Paper work. Grading papers. Drinking a latte. Carpooling. Paying taxes. Resolving interpersonal conflict. Listening to old men talk about the glory days. All of these things seem like mundane and everyday occurrences. But in the ordinary, could we be missing something more?
How did Jesus look at the ordinary of life? He saw Kingdom in a fig tree. He blessed a common meal and made it holy. He took a tax collector and restored him. He took a centuries-old ritual like Passover and elevated it by His death, burial, and resurrection.
In other words, nothing was common with Jesus, and life can transcend the ordinary for the follower of Jesus, too. The ordinary is an opportunity to bless others with the Gospel. To extend grace. To see God’s hand at work. To listen. Why do we struggle with this? We want the glory of the extreme. We want to be recognized. To rescue the child stranded in a smoke-filled house. To discover the next technological advance. To preach the next, best sermon.
God may call us to these extraordinary things. However, most of the time, he calls us to be extraordinary in the everyday, to glorify him in ordinary things.
One way we do this is by serving others through small acts, giving a cup of water in Jesus’ name. He may call us to encourage a weak brother or sister in Christ over a cup of coffee. To smile and reach out to a child who is sad. To put an arm around a neighbor who feels as if their usefulness is gone. To take food to a friend who’s just lost his job short of collecting a pension. To take time to weep with a cancer patient.
Just the other day, I ran into a brother in Christ at Wal-Mart. He was down. Life wasn’t going exactly as he planned. I tried to encourage him and listen to him in Christ. We must have talked for about thirty minutes, laughing, crying, and praying together in the sporting goods aisle.
There is no ordinary or mundane work when we reach out in love. If we’ve been called to a task, it’s for His glory and kingdom, significant work.
Another part of glorifying God in the ordinary circumstances of life involves dealing with our perspective and attitude about these mundane things. Do we possess spirits of drudgery or anticipation about how Christ will use people and circumstances to cultivate us further and further into the image of Christ?
My friend in Wal-Mart may not have called our interaction earth-shattering, but what if God chose to use that time to do some significant Kingdom work not only in his life but mine, as well? What about the act of shopping at Wal-Mart that day? Can I take joy in picking out toothpaste or deodorant? Yep. Can I experience a spirit of thanksgiving in buying a name brand instead of a generic on occasion? Absolutely. Glorifying God doesn’t just mean glorifying Him in our vocational callings. It also means taking joy in life and enjoying the good things He’s given and provided us each day.
Especially in the ordinary things.
Post by Dr. Drew Randle, Professor of Christian Ministry at Bryan College.