Ordinary People

03/02/2011

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

One of the very strange tensions that exists in the Christian milieu goes something like this: Am I awesome and shiny or am I weak and incapable of doing any really substantive on my own? Am I really created in God's own image or do I reflect the fallen Adam and conclude that all things I have done apart from Christ are “dung”? (Philippians 3:8 KJV)

A few weeks ago I prepared a message on the scripture “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt 5:9). I reflected a lot on the lives of Ted Studebaker who worked for peace during the Vietnam War and SueZann Bosler, who led a quest to save the life of the man who murdered her father . I thought about men like early Brethren John Naas and even the dad in that new Volkswagen commercial who helps his Darth Vader-impersonating son “use the force” to start his new Passat after his attempt to get a welcome-home hug was brushed aside.

I don't know the actor who played the dad in the commercial, but I did spend some time with SueZann back in the day. And Ted Studebaker's best friend attends my church. What do these folks have in common?

They were ordinary people.

As Marianne Williamson describes above, we ask “who am I?” and assume that these individuals had strength and power to do what we fear we can't. It reminds me of what Pastor Dave Weiss says about the people in the Bible: “We often act like people in the Bible were superheroes, but they weren't--they were ordinary people who put their lives in the hands of an extraordinary God.”

Esther, David, Rahab, Peter...you won't have to look at them too closely to find some flaws. And yet look at how God used them! Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Things you and I could do too if we placed our faith in God and followed the examples of Jesus.

One of my favorite scenes from the hilarious movie Kung Fu Panda is the one in which Po's adoptive father tells him the “secret ingredient” in his famous “secret ingredient soup.” He leans closely and whispers, “The secret ingredient is: Nothing!” Po can't believe it. “To make something special,” his dad says, “you just have to believe that it's special!” Po sees his reflection in the “secret scroll” and starts to believe that he might be special, too.

We can talk at great length about the power of God, the miracles of Christ and the transforming actions of the Holy Spirit. But in the discussion, let's not forget that sometimes there is no secret ingredient and that God still chooses to use us for his purposes--no matter how inadequate we might feel we are. The late Rev. Bill Bosler's favorite hymn was “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” which goes:

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth

The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our father

Brothers all are we.

Let me walk with my brother

In perfect harmony.

 

Let peace begin with me

Let this be the moment now.

With every step i take

Let this be my solemn vow.

To take each moment

And live each moment

With peace eternally.

Let there be peace on earth,

And let it begin with me – Jackson/Miller 1955

Unless you're a head of state, you probably won't find yourself in a position to negotiate a peace treaty. And even then—good luck! But what God might be calling you to today is to let His peace begin with you. When we're making peace within ourselves and with our neighbors, Christ says we are “children of God,” and the thing about children is that they tend to bear a resemblance to their parents.

“Who am I to be a peacemaker?” you ask. Actually, who are you not to be?

Go in peace.

___________________________________

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

 

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