The Power of Being Ordinary
"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." Acts 4:13 (NIV)
When I first embraced God’s gift of grace, I knew almost nothing about the Bible. I bought my first copy on a snowy Friday night, intimidated by the size of it, overwhelmed by the notes in the margins and the maps in the back.
I started with the book of Psalms because it looked like poetry, and I was undone by the end of the first verse. "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" (Psalm 1:1, NASB)
Sinners, scoffers? I knew these people. We used different words — party animals, bad girls — but they were my friends. My before-Jesus friends. The people I had walked with, stood with and sat with, just like the Bible said.
Though I loved them, I no longer wanted to do the things they did. Was it possible to change? To be made new? The next verse showed me what a person of God did: "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2, NASB).
Wow. So simple. 1) Read the Bible with enthusiasm. 2) Think about what you’ve read. Bam.
No wonder my new friends from church kept telling me to read God’s Word. In a world filled with problems, He provides answers.
I started taking my Bible to work, catching a few minutes here and there to read and digest. I didn’t understand all of it, couldn’t keep the characters straight and wasn’t clear on how everything fit together. But this much I knew: for the first time in my life, the Bible made sense.
A co-worker, seeing my excitement, asked me what I was reading.
"The Bible!" I told her. "Do you have one?"
She laughed. "Not one like that."
So, I bought one for her, the same make and model as mine. That turned out to be a blessing, because our Bibles had the same page numbers. Seriously, when you don’t know Chronicles from Corinthians, those numbers come in handy.
We started meeting together once a week in the conference room at work, with our matching Bibles and our fill-in-the-blank workbooks designed for new believers. I stayed one week ahead of her in the workbook, figuring if she asked me a question, I had a better chance of knowing the answer.
Me, leading a Bible study? Talk about the blind leading the blind! By that point, I knew maybe three verses by heart. Three. But I also knew the One who wrote them.
I brought nothing to that study but the Bible in my hand and Jesus in my heart. Like our verse today says, I was "unschooled" and "ordinary." I had no training, no biblical knowledge and no experience in making disciples. The Greek word for "ordinary" is idiótés, which pretty well sums things up.
Those disciples in Jerusalem? Their boldness … their confidence … didn’t come from having been in school. It came from having "been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). And it came from being "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:8, NIV).
For those of us who struggle, thinking "I don’t know much" or "I’m not smart enough" to share the Bible with others, our first-century brothers show us the way. Spend time with Jesus, through worship and the Word, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the talking.
Heavenly Father, even as I diligently study the Bible, remind me it’s not about what I know, but Who I know. Help me lay down my weaknesses and embrace Your strength. Help me put aside my words and share Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 2:13, "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Spending time in God’s presence and in His Word transforms us from the inside out, preparing us to share His love and His truth with our hurting world.
If you’ve felt "unschooled" or "ordinary" when it comes to handling God’s Word, what encouragement have you found here to bolster your courage? Who might you study the Bible with, trusting the Holy Spirit to do the teaching?