The Glory of the Ordinary

Apr 18, 2019

The fact that Jesus worked as a carpenter serves as a reminder to us that Jesus came into this world in ordinary fashion, aside from the fact of the virgin birth. He was born to two poor parents. When He was a baby, He did all the things that normal babies do — He cried, threw His food halfway across the room and messed in his diapers. 

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As He grew older, there seemed to be nothing special about him. He didn’t walk around with a halo constantly over his head. Isaiah 53:2 predicted, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." In other words, there was nothing special about the way He looked. He looked ordinary, He lived an ordinary life, and it was because of this that the Jews couldn’t imagine that He was in any way extraordinary.

We live in a world that worships the grand, the great, and the outstanding. It has little time for the ordinary. To be viewed as "Mister Average" hurts our feelings. We’d rather be up there among the indispensable people, making our indelible mark on the world. It’s not enough to dream dreams; we’ve got to dream "great dreams". 

And so we look around us in the church. We see evangelists in the church who are really "on fire," who have so much enthusiasm and vigor. We see missionaries who travel halfway around the world and make great sacrifices for the Lord. We see great men who seem to know the Bible frontwards and backwards.

And what we end up with is the impression that if we are not on a par with the gifted evangelists, teachers and leaders we meet, then we just aren’t doing much for Christ. After all, our own lives seem so ordinary in comparison. And, yet, Christ’s years as a carpenter were ordinary. There was no hysteria, nothing spectacular about that part of His life. Did He serve God during these years? We’d better believe it. But He did it while performing ordinary, every-day tasks.

I admire gifted preachers. I admire enthusiastic preachers. There are times that I need the lift that they can provide. But there are many who fulfill their responsibilities in the shadows who are just as significant. I have just as much admiration for a mother who raises her children to know and love God.

We need to refuse to be intimidated into thinking the ordinary is only a little more than useless. Thank God genuinely for the enthusiasm of fast-moving preachers and leaders who dream lovely dreams. When the zealous thunderballs come preaching with arms flying and dreams and schemes pouring from them, thank God for them and pray for them. Thank God for the dedication of missionaries who travel around the world under difficult circumstances. When you hear of their sacrifices, thank God for them and pray for them.

But don’t ever get the feeling that you’re a faithless pagan just because you’re not serving God like that. After all, all of us work at ordinary jobs like teaching school and balancing books and selling insurance. We can be made to feel that we aren’t serving God at all.

Is it the case that the preacher or the missionary is serving God more than the rest? What counts as Christian service?

1) Does constant and earnest prayer for the lost count?

2) Does it count that you raise your family to believe in God and to fill society with the richness of Christ?

3) Does working hard at a job so that you can give liberally to support dynamic preachers and missionaries count?

4) Does it count that you work among the lost showing them a Christian example of honesty, integrity and purity?

5) Does it count that you set forth the principles of Christ in your marriage relationship?

These are the kinds of things that are just as important as anything a preacher does. It’s wrong to down-grade our own service to God just because we work for the college and the preacher works for the church. If we’re working to glorify God, then there is nothing ordinary about what we do at all.

What raises ordinariness to significance is the dedication of what we are and what we have to the glory of God. And if you’re involved in serving Christ in this way, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

Excerpted from a sermon, “God was a Carpenter,” delivered by Alan Smith at White House Church of Christ.   Used by permission. Content distributed by > Used for non-profit teaching purposes only.