The lasting legacy of ordinary believers

The lasting legacy of ordinary believers

It is easy to be impressed by the giants of the Christian faith. We read in the Bible of people like Elijah who stood up to evil kings, of Moses who stood before Pharaoh, and of Paul who testified before rulers and hostile Jewish governments. We know of people like Martin Luther and John Knox who stood firm in difficult times, speaking the truth to power. We are glad that God has used these people. Their stories are memorable. But we are simply not like that.

Is there anything useful we can really do for the work of God’s kingdom? Even if we feel inadequate, if we are not well-connected to powerful people, and if we are not impressive preachers or anything? Well, of course! The vast majority of God’s work in the world is done through ordinary Christians, people who in the eyes of the world are no-one special.

Think more widely of what we read in the Bible. The course of history was changed by people like a servant girl in the household of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. A godly landowner named Boaz showed kindness to a foreign immigrant which led to the family line of Jesus. Many people in Acts hosted the church in their houses.

We see this in Acts 8 as well. When persecution hit the church in Jerusalem, the members of the church scattered through the world as they ran for their lives. And as they went, they “preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4). The book of Acts goes on to tell us of the ministry of Phillip in Samaria, but many people whose names we do not know also spoke to others about Jesus. In fact, later in Acts, Paul visits a number of places on his missionary journeys which had churches he did not plant. Christians whose names have been lost in time planted them. Their faithful ministry led to people being saved and churches being established.

Think about who has been most influential on your faith. Perhaps it was your parents who faithfully taught you the Bible, prayed with and for you, and took you to church. Maybe it was a teacher or a good friend. The odds are that these people won’t be named in a history book for their influence, but they made a massive difference through their faithful, quiet work.

You too can be a bigger influence on others than you realise. Simply listening to people and encouraging them at church can be influential. Your kindness to those who are sick will be remembered. Your involvement in teaching children at church might bear eternal fruit. Paul constantly encourages Christians to build one another up; you work in this direction matter more than you think.

It’s the same with your non-Christian friends. Living a faithful life in front of work colleagues will stand out. Your ethics in the workplace, your kindness that cuts across office politics, and your enthusiasm to work well even under a poor manager, will all point to your faith. Who knows what impact your faithful life lived in this world might have?

Keep at it. A consistent, faithful life will be unusual in this world and you may be mightily used for the kingdom of God. Even if you’re not like Elijah or John Knox.