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One of the great things about God is that he is always using what I call “ordinary” people to participate with him in establishing his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That is, a world in which our hopes for a world of peace, love, and joy are being fulfilled. By ordinary people I mean those who are not famous, affluent, powerful, or superior to others in one way or another. People like you and me. This is not to say that God does not use “extraordinary” people to fulfill his purposes, but I believe that most of the time, down through the ages, God has used, and continues to use “ordinary” people to do extraordinary things.
Examples of this can be found in the Bible. There was Joseph, the somewhat annoying little brother of Jacob’s older sons. Who God chose to eventually become second in command in ruling Egypt. Then there was David, the young shepherd boy, ignored by his family, who God chose to become the king of Israel. On the other hand, God used people of all ages. Consider that lod man named Moses, who was about 80 years old when God chose him to lead his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. God chose women, too. Women like Esther, a slave girl who God chose to be the queen of Persia and Media, in order to save her people from destruction by evil forces. And don’t forget the fisherman who Jesus chose to become his main man in the work of assisting in God’s transforming work ion the world.
I could go on and on, but you can read many more stories in the Bible and history in general about how God has always used ordinary people to fulfill his purposes. However, now I want to consider an example from the recent past. Fifty years ago, to be precise. It was a decade which is remembered by many of us as the era of the American civil rights movement. Most movements toward justice and righteousness begin slowly, ususally with ordinary people. Rarely does some important person get up and announce that “today I’m starting a movement”. No, it’s usually ordinary people who at the time often don’t even realize that God has chosen them to work with him in transforming the world.
One of those persons was Rosa Parks. Fifty years ago, in the southern USA, many laws existed to uphold the segregation of black and white people, and prevent their integration. One of these laws required that if a white man got on the bus and couldn’t find an empty seat, he was allowed to tell a black person to get up and give him her seat. This was an everyday occurrence, all very legal. But one day, a man got on the bus and couldn’t find an empty seat. So he told a black woman named Rosa Parks that she had to get up and let him have the seat. I’m sure that she had often endured this treatment in the past, and always complied. But on this day, she refused to give up her seat. As a result she was arrested. And that might have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. The event was publicized by the news media all over the nation and beyond. As a result, out of this act of civil disobedience against an unjust law, came further actions which led to what became known as the civil rights movement. Which in turn led to the passage of the civil rights laws by Congress. Today, 50 years later, God is still using ordinary people of various races, religions, and nationalities to continue to transform the world so that the hopes for righteousness and justice – peace, love, end joy are fulfilled, for everyone.
Another issue which God has been dealing with through ordinary people has been justice and righteousness for women. Today this is an especially severe issue in certain parts of the world, where women continue to be treated as objects who are expected to submit to the desires and needs of men, who have created laws to keep women in their place. For example, as I understand, there are parts of Pakistan controlled by the Taliban. One of the ways they keep women in their place is by prohibiting education for girls and women.
Last October this issue made headline news, when a 15 year old Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai was intentionally shot in the head on her school bus by a member of the Taliban. This was apparently an act of revenge, not only because of her defiance of their religious laws concerning the place of women in their society, but also because she had been publishing a blog since she was 11 years old, in which she expressed her feelings about the Taliban prohibiting girls from getting an education. By way of the BBC, her blog was sent around the world. So they tried to kill her.
Fortunately she was not killed. She was promptly sent out of Pakistan to Great Britain for emergency treatment, which was successful. She is still under a threat of death by the Taliban. She and her family now live in the relative safety of Great Britain, where she attends school in the 9th grade. As she recently began attending school again she was quoted as saying “I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity… I want to learn about politics and about social rights, about law, about how to bring change in this world and to work for the happiness and education of all girls.”
I don’t know what religion she is part of, if any. But I have no doubt that God has been and is using her to fulfill his purposes. This is an example of how God can make something good come out of something evil. She mentions that she has achieved her dream (that is, her hope) of attending school again. But notice also that this hope was and is not just for herself, but for all girls everywhere. Also notice that for her, attending school is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, “… to bring change in this world…”.
I’m sure that God will continue to use this ordinary girl, who will soon be a young woman, to bring change and fulfill hopes as she goes through the rest of her life. I would not be surprised to find that some day she will be recognized by the public as an important person. But I also believe that she will always be an ordinary person, who God will use to help fulfill his extraordinary purpose of establishing his kingdom of peace, love, and joy – with righteousness and justice for all. That to me is truly good news in the midst of so much bad news. Here’s some more good news. God can and will do the same with you, if you let him. Yes, that is one of the great things about God.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray