Sometimes, if I’m in a meeting, my wife will see comments on Stuff Christians Like before I do and will tell me not to read them because they’re not nice.
That happened twice last week.
I guess it was technically once, since someone left the same comment on two consecutive posts to make sure I got the point. It was long, and not on the surface that mean, but despite my wife’s warning to skip it, I read it and two lines stood out to me. Here is what they said:
I like the humble Jon Acuff. Not the buy-my-new-book Jon Acuff.
I found that challenging for a few reasons. The first is that, despite this all being really new to me and making mistakes, I honestly don’t feel like I’ve been cocky about the new book. I self published a book. I haven’t been bragging about a publisher or a book tour or anything like that. The second comment though, about me turning into “buy-my-new-book Jon Acuff” was more frustrating. Imagine that since the third grade, you wanted to write books. For close to 30 years, that was your dream. And in the third week your new book was available, someone essentially tells you “enough already.” The book had been out for 17 days before someone told me they were tired of hearing about it. Imagine being a musician and on the third week of your album release, someone at your show tells you to stop talking about your new album. Imagine if you got your MBA after years of work, balancing your kids and your family with that dream. And in the third week, someone at your job tells you to stop talking about it already.
Those kind of situations are demoralizing, aren’t they? Even if you don’t have a blog, someone in your life has discouraged you or labeled or questioned you in a way that was not intended to grow you.
Someone has told you, “Enough already.”
Someone has told you, “Who are you to try that?”
Someone has told you, “You’re the last person I could see doing that.”
Someone has told you, “That will never work.”
When that happens, you feel defeated. You don’t feel special. You feel common. You feel really ordinary.
We think of that sometimes as a barrier to our ability to be used by God. We look at our simple hands and our simple ideas and wonder if there is any good that can come from someone so ordinary.
I’ve felt that way a lot, but it’s getting harder to, because there’s a new thought that is becoming inescapable.
It caught me again when I heard my pastor talk about a verse in John 1. When Nathanael heard where Christ was from, his first response was, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
Can anything good come from there?
That is not the dynamic, earth shakes beginning to a ministry. That is not the warrior’s entrance the world expected. There is no shock and awe to hearing a man is from Nazareth. Christ came from somewhere ordinary.
Why was he a baby born to an ordinary family in a less than ordinary place, in a worse than ordinary manger?
Because God loves doing the extraordinary with the ordinary.
He loves turning things the world has forgotten into miracles. He loves turning our ordinary expectations upside down into extraordinary experiences.
Over and over again he does this. From creating an extraordinary virgin birth in an ordinary town leading to Christmas to John the Baptist.
In Acts 4:13, we see the rulers, elders and teachers of the law debating what to do with Peter and John. Was it their extraordinary powers that wowed them? Was it the might and ability that terrified them or forced them to admit a curiosity that would not be so easily solved?
No, not at all. Here is what the Bible tells us the rulers thought:
“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.”
They were ordinary. Like me. Like you. Like us. And it was so astonishing, to see the extraordinary so clearly displayed in people so clearly ordinary.
In 2011, people will tell you that you are ordinary. That might sting sometimes, but my hope is that by your ordinary life, you will point people toward an extraordinary savior. My prayer is that your ordinariness will be so pronounced that it will be astonishing and above all, it will reveal to friends and family members and neighbors and strangers, that you’ve been with Jesus.
A savior who loves doing extraordinary things with ordinary people like us.