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ARE WE ORDINARY PEOPLE IMPORTANT?


 Much is said about just what influence and status ordinary people have within the church, especially those who are women. The argument is often raised (especially by those in the women’s movement, but certainly not exclusively) that unless you are ordained into the ministry  or have special training, you are very limited as to your ministry and, in fact, some even claim that you cannot minister at all. I am not sure what translation of the Bible such people read but it certainly does not either say or imply that in my Bible, and if we look through the entire Biblical story, there are probably more ordinary people that God has used than those that were “ordained”. People such as David, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and so the list goes on.

Let’s start with the importance of woman in the witness of the Bible and what better place than to start on the morning of the resurrection of Jesus Himself. Matthew’s account (here taken from the amplified version) of the story is very significant. We are looking at Matthew 28:1-10.

1. Now after the Sabbath, near dawn of the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to take a look at the tomb.
2. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the boulder back and sat upon it.
3. His appearance was like lightning, and his garments as white as snow.
4. And those keeping guard were so frightened at the sight of him that they were agitated and they trembled and became like dead men.
5. But the angel said to the women, Do not be alarmed and frightened, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified.
6. He is not here; He has risen, as He said [He would do]. Come, see the place where He lay.
7. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.
8. So they left the tomb hastily with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples.
9. And as they went, behold, Jesus met them and said, Hail (greetings)! And they went up to Him and clasped His feet and worshipped Him.
10. Then Jesus said to them, Do not be alarmed and afraid; go and tell My brethren to go into Galilee, and there they will see Me.

Here is a precise account of the moments after that great event occurred. Let’s forget about the others who are present, because they were in a state of stupor caused by the dazzling presence of an angel. They certainly would not have been witnesses to what followed.

The important characters to the scene (taking into account the other Gospel reports) were the women who had supported Jesus in His ministry and, especially, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (maybe these were the only two present). They arrive just after the resurrection had actually taken place.

Now we need to place the social scene here in order to appreciate what follows. Here is a society that did not place any importance on women (something still the way of life in most of the middle eastern countries of today) and, because of this, women were not permitted to have any significant position in life.

Now these two arrive on the scene. Jesus had a choice. Did He appear to the women, who were, by their society’s standards, irrelevant, or did He wait until some of the men finally arrived (possibly because these women would have raced back and told them)?

He does not wait.

Instead, He makes His appearance to them and reveals history’s greatest event to these women (vs 9-10). What should this be telling us? I don’t know about you, but it tells me that the insignificance of women was not of God’s design. God considers them of significant importance in His overall plan for the human race.

It is important that we accept this elevation of the status of woman for the rest of what I am saying to be relevant. This appearance had now placed women very close to men in God’s plan.

These women were, in fact, the most significant witnesses, in that they were the very first to see Jesus risen from the dead. What an awesome experience that must have been for them.

This aspect was obviously not totally at odds with the way the disciples thought. Most probably they had been given teaching from Jesus (not recorded) on this matter. We see this from the fact that when the matter is reported, they believe (at first) what they have been told. Then social pressures (the world) come into play and Peter and John decide that they had better check out this amazing story that they had brought to them. This “world” influence on Peter and John does not change the significance of God’s revelation but shows, quite clearly, how easy we are influenced by the world and the way society thinks, rather listening only to God’s plan.

Now let us expand our viewpoint.

How many of the mentioned followers of Jesus were “ordained” members of the established religious culture of the day. Apart for Nicodemus, none are mentioned. There are certainly none in the inner circle that we know as the Apostles.

Does this mean that God got it wrong?

I very much doubt that. God does not get things wrong (even if the world tries to tell us He does) so the choosing of these people was not by accident but as a part of His divine plan. In fact, the scriptures support the aspect that He chooses the foolish (uneducated) by world standards in order to confound the so called wise.

So are we ordinary people important?

If we are to honestly believe God’s Word, then I have to say that the answer is definitely yes.

How does this fit in with what we see?

Well, let’s look at the story of Christianity over the last two millennia. While there have certainly been some very learned scholars and ordained people who have made significant contributions to where Christianity has gone since the resurrection of Christ, we also see that many of the set backs and obstacles that have been placed in the way of Christian growth has also come from this same general group. In fact, if could be easily said that many more obstacles have been placed in the way of Christian growth by the ordained people than the doors that have been opened.

Where do we see a parallel to this?

In the same religious structure of Jesus’ time. These men were those who should have known the way to God and should have been the first one’s to recognise the truth about Jesus, but they were the ones who opposed Him and placed obstacles in the way of Christianity in those early days (consider the early mentions of what St. Paul did as a pharisee).

By the same token, when we look at much of the great advancements of Christianity over the same era of time, we see high significance of the ordinary people and, in many cases, such people have run foul of the established church as they have endeavoured to bring the salvation of Jesus Christ into the lives of people.


Why is there an obstacle to such work?

In a word, pride. Just as it was in the days of Jesus, pride gets in the way as church leaders seem to think (and I hasten to add that this is not all church leaders) that it is them and them alone who can bring salvation to the world. While that may be the ideal, they have not and do not do that, often choosing to rest in their own little world and to ignore the reality that many are out there waiting to hear the good news and to see it in action in the same way that Jesus applied it.

The conclusion is that to be “ordained” does not bring you to a position of reaching out with the Gospel. It is purely in th heart of each individual person who has a genuine love for God, regardless of their status, that is where the real work is going to be done. If you think that you have to have position to do Christ’s work, then you have deceived yourself and you are not following in the Master’s footsteps.