Ordinary People

My last post talked about how Peter was just an ordinary man with some pretty big flaws, but God managed to use him anyway. I am beginning to understand that this is a theme throughout the New Testament. God seems to delight in using our weaknesses for his glory in order that we human beings can focus on his glory, rather than our own efforts.

A little while after Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, he and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin — the Jewish government — for preaching about Jesus. Peter again gives a sermon ending by declaring: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Well, all the hoity-toity, well educated Jewish leadership didn’t know what to think, “when they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).

This must be a message that the Lord is trying to tell me right now, because, what do you know? I disobeyed the doctor’s orders and went to church yesterday, and a big part of the sermon was on this same idea. Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For is it written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did nto know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe…For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. … Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’

One of the big points in all this is that, the bigger and more I think I am, the less room there is for God–the more it all depends on me, the less it is that God has done. Which is maybe part of the reason who so many of the people in the Bible were so foolhearty and flawed. And why the Bible doesn’t skate over those flaws. It’s easier for God to use people who know they are flawed. They are more teachable, they are more willing to acknowledge that it was God who did the thing, rather than them. And, like the Jewish leadership, it’s easier for other people to see that it MUST have been God doing the thing because that person could absolutely not do it on their own.

It’s like trying to teach somebody something when they already think they know it all. Even if they don’t know it all, good luck trying to teach them something when they just aren’t willing to listen. A person has to have a teachable attitude or else you’re just wasting your time and breath.

It’s … true humility.

So, now I have to wonder … in what ways am I not ‘teachable,’ in what ways am I proud? For purely selfish reasons (the answers to these questions are often embarrassing and painful) I’m not sure I want to look this particular question in face. But I’m thinking it bears some thought.

One thought on “Ordinary People

  1. Great writing, so well said. I am chewing on the questions taht you asked at the end of the post. I think I tend to struggle with being proud. This is good to ponder….

Leave a Reply