Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things (Jul – Aug 1993)

By Matt Dabbs

by Larry Sharp
July – August, 1993

I’ve seen it happen so many times over the past several years of ministry – it never gets old – it still moves me – it reminds me all over again that the good news is powerful. I’m speaking of course about conversion. Watching, participating, rejoicing in the decision of one who has chosen to follow Jesus. The reactions of the people in the audience amaze me. I’ve seen grown men cry tears of joy, I’ve witnessed families being united in Christ, I’ve seen marriages that have been changed – all because of Jesus and his power to heal.

I have stood in that pool of water with people from all walks of life and listened to them confess that Jesus is the Lord. I’ve watched as they are lowered into the water, deciding to die to a life of self and sin, and then seen them raised to walk in a brand new life. It gets to me every time. How can a God possibly be so merciful, so patient and so understanding? Why is he looking out for people like us? I always leave with a deeper feeling of gratitude and appreciation for what has happened. I hope I will never get over that.

Often it strikes me – the incredible hard work, sacrifice and effort that have been put forth to help bring one to Christ. Sometimes that gets lost in the midst of the celebration. And perhaps it should. After all, Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10). Paul reminded Christians in Corinth who were prone to giving too much credit to their favorite preachers, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).

But I am reminded of a mother who has prayed for her children to have faith. I remember parents who have faithfully served God and are now seeing their children respond to him. I’ve witnessed dozens of college students and young adults so full of life and potential come to Jesus. I’ve seen the tears of a Christian wife whose husband was just baptized after months of study.

In nearly every case someone or several someones have made great efforts to help. People rarely become Christians without the help of others. Perhaps that’s why Jesus included the human element in his call to “go make disciples.” Jesus knew it would require people who were willing to care, love, sacrifice, give, and to open their hearts that others might live.

Paul reminded a young group of Christians in Thessalonica that his love for them was so real that he was “delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Maybe we are missing that element today. Time has become a precious commodity. We are reluctant to share it. We know God’s work needs to be done, but we hope the “hired help” will do it. It seems to me that Jesus’ method of evangelism was that of investing his heart, his time, and his life in people. From the beginning to the end of his ministry, Jesus gave of himself sacrificially to teach people. Jesus invested precious time – something he did not have a lot of – that people might know God.

All of this challenges us to consider how we will invest our time. What part will evangelism or sharing our faith with others have in our busy lives? I don’t need to remind many of you about all the demands on our time – it might be overwhelming to list them all! However, perhaps I should remind us that God would never ask us to do something we are unable to do. I have been convinced over the years that God continues to use ordinary men and women to accomplish extraordinary things for him. He has always used people “as they were going” to make disciples.

I am reminded of a bright young lady who had been invited to some of our college activities on campus. She was a new student and had experienced a difficult life. When she was only seven years old, her parents were killed in a car accident. Her older sister raised her and sent her off to college. In time, with efforts put forth by a number of the college women, she became a Christian. That in itself is a beautiful story, but it does not end there. She began to share her faith in Jesus and study the Bible with her boss at work (a semi-frightening, not to mention intimidating, experience for some of us!) This young lady in turn responded to Jesus and was baptized. The story does not end there either. “The boss” went home and shared the good news with her husband, and after months of study, he became a Christian too. What a change in their lives, in their marriage, what hope for their future! All because a young college girl became a Christian and because she was willing to tell what she knew to someone she loved. Maybe that’s it – telling what you know about Jesus and his plan for life to someone you love! That same college girl went on a mission trip to Europe this past summer where she touched the hearts of dozens of European people. Only in eternity will we truly know all that God has done through her or through any of us. Did I mention that she is engaged to a wonderful Christian man and that they are beginning a new life together in the near future? Truly God is able to do more than we could ask or imagine.

I am also reminded of a wonderful couple nearing retirement age. They have given their lives in service to Jesus for many years. They have quite ordinary jobs, one as a postal worker, the other as a school-teacher. But over the years they have done some extraordinary things. They adopted five children who had extra special needs and raised them and one biological child to adulthood. They helped keep the church going through deeds of service they would be too modest for me to tell. These were acts of love, not duty. They have lived to see their dream come true – to see the church prosper and grow and reach people in their community. One family they helped reach is especially dear to me. The two women teach school together. In time, friendship, love, and mutual trust developed. One asked the other to begin a Bible study. But that was only part of the story – it is really a story about friendship – of one family loving, serving and caring for one another. In time – family ministry often takes lots of it – the husband and wife were baptized into Christ. You might understand why they have become one of the most loving and serving families in the church – they had a great role model. Incidentally, their oldest son was the first teen to become a Christian in our teen ministry!

Jesus envisioned that people who had received good news would spread that news to others. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the world and in the lives of others. Methods change, people of different generations change, but the good news remains constant. Christ has died for sinful men and women. People still need the blood of Jesus.

Maybe you are the ambassador Jesus is wanting to use. Maybe you will be the one to make a difference in your neighborhood, at your work place, in your school or your family. We, like the prophets, feel a deep sense of inadequacy. We wish God would choose someone else – someone more talented, knowledgeable, and more eloquent. Let us remind ourselves that God has always used ordinary people to do extraordinary things for him. May we have the resolve of Isaiah: “Here am I, send me,” that others might find a life that is truly life.Wineskins Magazine

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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