So much of our society focuses on superstars and celebrities. Whether sports stars, movie stars or pop stars, we follow their lives through glossy magazines and tacky TV shows. Many people dream of meeting them or having their lives.
Sadly, this perception permeates the modern Church as well. Many Christians have their favorite pastors, Bible teachers and music leaders. And because the modern pulpit has been replaced with a stage, everyone who ascends the platform is inevitably compared to other Christian superstars.
It’s obvious from headlines that the average human being does not possess the character to sustain the weight of stardom. Yet, whether it’s in our culture at large or the smaller Christian culture, we continue to place intense weight upon deficient shoulders by our fandom.
Our culture’s perspective isn’t unique. It infested Jewish culture at the time of Jesus. His students inquired, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Matt 18:1. You can almost sense them jostling each other for the prime position, hoping Jesus would highlight a quality or trait they possessed that would mark them above the others.
As usual, Jesus performs a complete reversal, turning their expectations and understanding inside-out. He beckoned a little child to join him. In that society, a child was worth virtually nothing.
The more I read the Gospels, the more convinced I become that God cherishes the ordinary. In a great blog post, Fr Stephen Freeman makes an interesting observation. The second creation story ties humanity’s first sin to the rather mundane and ordinary act of eating. Think about that for a moment. Humanity’s and subsequently creation’s damage was caused by such a small ordinary action.
Throughout the New Testament and into the Church’s life, the acts through which we cooperate with God’s grace toward our ongoing salvation and the subsequent renewal of creation are equally ordinary. Fr Stephen names these classical exercises in his blog post — fasting, prayer, generosity, and watchfulness.
There are other equally ordinary tasks. In fact, Jesus summarizes the entire Law into two ordinary commands — love God and love your neighbor. As the ordinary act of eating impacted humanity and creation, our ordinary acts likewise can impact our lives and world. Here’s a list of ordinary moments in which we might cooperate with God’s abundant grace:
- Thank God immediately upon waking each morning.
- Move over slightly for the motorcyclist beside you on the freeway.
- Chat with a co-worker or neighbor about their life so you can secretly pray for them.
- Remain at peace in the midst of a crisis or deadline at work.
- Be polite to everybody.
- Stop and notice what’s happening around you.
- Don’t overindulge with food, TV or online activities.
- Listen to your spouse and children talk about their day’s activities.
- Exercise a little each day.
- Attend church services.
- Give to someone asking for a handout.
- Read the Bible regularly.
- Spend some time being quiet every day.
- Get plenty of sleep every night.
- Apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
- Forgive when you’ve been wronged.
St Paul encourages Timothy to “Train yourself to be godly” (1Tim 4:7). Training to be godly occurs through ordinary actions by ordinary people in ordinary circumstances.