January 18, 2010
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-8
We've now entered "Ordinary Time" in the Christian calendar. Christmas is officially over and Lent has yet to come. The label "ordinary time" may sound boring, but it's not meant to be a useless season. Most of life is spent in "ordinary time," and so it's our task to figure out what pleases God as we live an "ordinary" Christian life.
As I was posting an article in our Careers channel this week, I was struck by a point the author made. In his article "Is Secular Work Valued by God?" Os Hillman reminded readers that most of Jesus' life was spent as an ordinary carpenter. A working class man toiling beside St. Joseph, getting his hands dirty.
I think it's easy to forget that fact. So much of Scripture focuses on his last 3 years of life - yet Jesus Christ lived 30 years before that! He walked among us as an infant, a child, a young adult, and a career man. He loved his family and participated in his community. Hillman cites St. Bonaventure's thoughts: "His doing nothing ‘wonderful' [in His first 30 years] was in itself a kind of wonder."
As Americans, I think we struggle a bit with being ordinary. We want to be extraordinary. We tune into shows like American Idol to live vicariously through these ordinary folks who rise to extraordinary heights. We look at the dedicated missionaries traveling the world and imagine their lives are more meaningful than ours. We dream about making our own unique mark on the world. Yet, our Lord did not spend most of his life seeking the extraordinary - at least not externally.
There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be extraordinary. But sometimes it can become more about self than about God. We forget that there is "wonder" in the ordinary, and that God places great value on the most ordinary of tasks if completed out of love for him and in imitation of him.
In fact, God's willingness to live an ordinary life consecrates the ordinary, making it extraordinary. The most mundane task can now be a channel for God's grace. Hillman points out:
"God values our work even when the ‘product' seems to have no eternal value. His design for work is multifaceted: not only does He desire us to worship Him through our work, He is concerned about meeting human needs and has created each of us with unique DNA to be a conduit for Him to provide for those needs."
The opening scriptures reminds us that "there are varieties of working, but the same God inspires them all in every one." While your daily responsibilites may look ordinary on the outside, God has a hand in your life. What are your gifts? In what ways does God want to use you to reach others? Don't be afraid if what you have to offer seems "ordinary."
Intersecting Faith & Life: Write down one or two ways you can serve God and others in your every day life this year.