Jesus, the friend of the ordinary

C. S. Lewis is right that strictly speaking there is no one who is ordinary. People are made in God’s image, and everyone regardless is extraordinary. And yet in the course of human life all relative as we see it, there are ordinary people, looked at as run of the mill, nothing much. Another way of looking at it, no matter how gifted one might be, in a sense they are ordinary. As the saying goes, everyone has to put on one leg of their trousers at a time.

Jesus is the friend of the ordinary. Of those who really are nothing special at all in the eyes of the world. Perhaps considered dull and dim. Of little or no consequence. Perhaps they work on an assembly line or clean toilets or do this or that which may require a little skill along with mostly practice. Not that what we do along with how we do it isn’t important, but it’s sad how the world measures people: It’s about what you do, where you work. One’s true worth is measured in large part by that. Maybe they’ve failed morally or have been incarcerated so that they’re completely written off by others.

Along comes Jesus who is the friend of the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful (Matthew 5)—and people are unimpressed. It is the ones who have achieved and who know how to sell themselves or sell what they’re doing who are the people of note. But not to Jesus. To him it is the down and outs, the people of no account, of no reputation. That is where Jesus lived all his life, as one accused of being born illegitimately–apart from wedlock, just a plain carpenter (or builder), who was evidently extraordinary to the rabbis in the temple when he was twelve, but settled down and never made a name for himself. Just plain Jesus, son of the carpenter Joseph, who himself became the carpenter. A good trade, surely good in it. But when Jesus embarked on the calling his Father gave him, the folks who knew him took great offense. No, this wasn’t the Jesus they knew. They could only shake their heads, not believing that what was happening was really the case or legitimate. In fact because of what Jesus seemed to be claiming, some pretense toward Messiahship?, they were offended and tried to do away with him. Even his own brothers who he grew up with didn’t believe in him. Those closest to us often don’t see anything beyond the ordinary. Although extraordinary in his person and calling, Jesus was as ordinary in his humanity as the rest of us, at the same time without sin.

This is where God dwells, with the humble and broken, those who are contrite in heart, the lowly, those who know that all is a gift from God and of their own great need. That is where Jesus makes himself at home, not with the great ones, but with the humble poor, those who can hardly look up, whose only joy will have to come from God, since they often know plenty of suffering in a mundane day in and day out existence, who know they are sinners in daily need of mercy.

I’m encouraged that the Lord dwells with the likes of me, with the likes of us. That is where I want to remain.

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