Our everyday, ordinary lives can result in something quite extraordinary in the hands of our Lord and Master.
By Bob Regazzoli, Pastor, Australia
The title of this article is taken from Eugene Peterson’s translation of Romans 12. As we are now in Ordinary Time with the Christian calendar, this is a season when we can reflect and act on where the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding each of us in his mission of living and sharing the gospel.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. (Romans 12:1 MSG, emphasis mine)
Our everyday, ordinary lives are to be given each day as an offering to God. This is the kind of offering God is looking for. Not only do we live in this awareness every day, but we pray each day for God to help us be aware in whatever we set our hands to do, that he is present in our lives. To illustrate this, we can look at the impact members of the early church had as they went about their daily lives.
In Acts 9:36-10:1, we find three members mentioned by name. Tabitha, or Dorcas – a woman full of good works and acts of charity – was a seamstress who made tunics and other garments. Simon the Tanner showed generous hospitality to Paul and his travelling party. Cornelius, a Roman centurion who worshipped the God of Israel, was a man of prayer and generous in alms giving. He and his household were baptised by Peter.
What did they all have in common – a seamstress, a tanner, and a centurion? They went about their everyday, ordinary lives, worshipping God, and loving their neighbours. Their examples are recorded by Luke for all time. They embodied what we focus on during Ordinary Time – our walk with Jesus, and in particular, how to apply this in the Love Avenue. Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf summarised it well:
We need to build and strengthen mature communities of vision and character who celebrate faith as a way of life as they gather before God for worship and who, sent by God, live it out as they scatter to pursue various tasks in the world. (Quoted in Imagine Church, by Neil Hudson.)
I like the way this is explained: Members gather together before God for worship, and then, sent by God, are scattered. They are sent out to “Live and share the gospel.” This brings to mind Ecclesiastes 3:5 – “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” We are the living stones that Christ is using to build his spiritual temple, and each week we experience that scattering and gathering process.
Worshipping God is not just a worship service experience, but it’s our whole life. What we do when we go away from the worship service is just as important in our service to God, because it’s all of life. The NIV says it this way:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
In whatever vocation we have in life, we offer our lives to God. As a technician, a bus-driver, a baker, a teacher, a cleaner, parent, grandparent, in whatever we do in our everyday, ordinary lives, we are doing good works. We’re meeting people, we are showing love and respect to all, we are praying for people, whether they know it or not.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
The body of Christ – each one of us – is God’s personal handiwork, or masterpiece, which has been created in Christ to do good deeds, as this is all according to the purpose of the Master Designer.
There is a beautiful old hymn called “Take My Life and Let It Be,” and in the verses of this hymn, we are reminded how every aspect of our everyday, ordinary lives can be used as an offering to God.
All of our Christian life involves faith, hope and love – living in discipleship, worship, and witness. Most of us live in multiple communities. There is our immediate neighbourhood, our worship community/neighbourhood, our work community, social, sports, recreation, business and purchasing, online communities. Think of the multiple encounters that each of us have with other people through the course of one week. Then multiply this by the number of members in our congregations, and it adds up to a whole lot of encounters. All these encounters are with God’s beloved, and we are here to show the faith, hope and love of God to each and every person.
As the hymn lyrics go, “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.” Our everyday, ordinary lives can result in something quite extraordinary in the hands of our Lord and Master.