An Ordinary Joe

By Peter Meier   |   December 15, 2018

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him…” Matthew 1:24

Recently, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (LCMS) released a new report, The Royal Priesthood: Identity and Mission. You can download a copy here. The Royal Priesthood, or “the Priesthood of All Believers,” refers to the fact that the people of God are priests, called to serve their God and to share His name and His fame throughout the world. Ordinary believers are called and deployed on a not-so-ordinary mission as their daily vocation in their ordinary stations of life.

Whether or not you read this theological report, you cannot avoid God’s call to consider your role or “sent-ness” as a follower of Christ.

Consider Joseph, an “ordinary Joe.” We often use that term to describe someone who is not seeking the spotlight, is often not remarkable in and of himself or herself, and goes about life just minding his own business.

Actually, the Bible has a few of these, who are literally named Joseph. . .

There was obviously, Joseph of Nazareth. He was an ordinary man, a hard working craftsman, a “handyman,” loyal and helpful. He was engaged to a young woman named Mary. Upon hearing that she was pregnant he considered leaving her, but in a way that did not disgrace her. That tells you something about this man. Maybe he wasn’t so ordinary after all!

In fact, it was no ordinary happening when he was visited by the angel (read about it in Matthew 1:18-25). After that, Joseph took Mary as his wife and became “dad” to Jesus.

He couldn’t, and didn’t avoid God’s call.

Consider Joseph, the next-to-last of Jacob’s sons, Genesis 37-50. He was sort of an arrogant bratty kid, if you asked his brothers. They couldn’t stand their little brother! But God put him in a strategic place; God called him to save not only the nation of Egypt, but also the line of Abraham from whom the Savior would come. God was with him, shaping and forming this ordinary kid, and then God used him in not-so-ordinary ways!

He couldn’t, and didn’t avoid God’s call.

Consider Joseph of Arimathea, Matthew 27:57ff. He was a man with some means, a church leader who followed all the religious rituals – an ordinary Jewish life. But he stepped up when it was time to serve the kingdom – He boldly approached Pilate and gave Jesus his tomb after taking Jesus’ body from the cross. Not your ordinary request, and not such an ordinary action either –burying the body of God.

He couldn’t, and didn’t avoid God’s call.

You may not remember Joseph Barsabbas, Acts 1:21. He was one of the two who was chosen to take Judas’ place among The Twelve. He “was with Jesus” during His time on earth, and a witness to His resurrection. He learned from Jesus. He made himself available. But Joseph wasn’t chosen; Matthias was.

He couldn’t, and didn’t avoid God’s call.

Remember Joseph from Cyprus? He is better known as “Barnabas” – which means encourager. Joseph sold a field he owned and gave it to the disciples to support and encourage them. This ordinary Joe was the one man who came alongside of Saul (Paul) after his conversion. He spoke for him to the other disciples when they were afraid that it was a trick and Saul was going to kill them. This was no ordinary thing!

This ordinary Joe was willing to take the risk to help Saul/Paul get connected with the Followers of Jesus. Later, he stood up for John Mark who had left Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey – and this ordinary Joe took Mark with him in future mission work. He saw the potential in Saul and in Mark and didn’t let past behavior deter him. Not so ordinary!

He couldn’t, and didn’t avoid God’s call.

 None of these would be described as great, yet all stepped up to serve. What did they have in common? Each was with Jesus. They were near Him. Their lives were touched by Jesus, moved by his life, death, resurrection.

Each was called by God. And each made a difference:

·         Joseph, Jacob’s son, devised a master-plan to save many people from starvation, and more, to set Israel’s family in position to bless all the nations of the earth.

·         Joseph of Nazareth cared for Mary, the Mother of God, and raised her son, Jesus, Immanuel – God with us.

·         Joseph of Arimathea was with Jesus at the cross and lovingly cared for His body, burying God in his own tomb.

·         Joseph Barsabbas was with Jesus, discipled by Jesus, and willing to be one of the 12. When he wasn’t elected, he didn’t leave feeling hurt, but supported The Twelve.

·         Joseph of Cyprus stood by Paul and spoke for him to the disciples, mentoring and paving the way for Paul’s mission work.

Here’s the point: You don’t have to be great, you don’t have to be extra-ordinary, or above ordinary to make a difference. You just have to be near Jesus.

Ever since Genesis 3 and the Beginning of time, God’s mission, His purpose, has been to reclaim and restore lost sinners to Himself. He’s done that in your life. And He calls you to join Him in His mission. You are a sent one, on a mission (see John 17:18 and John 20:21). The Church, the people of God, are called as priests to serve, to pray for, to share the good news of the Gospel with all people, everywhere. God’s mission is your purpose in the station of life and the places of life where God has put you.

Just like Joseph.

How does God want to use you? You are an ordinary Joe or an ordinary Mary. You may be very ordinary in the eyes of the world. But don’t let that deter you. God has chosen and called you. Stay close to Jesus. Listen to His word. Because of that relationship, ordinary Joes get involved to make a difference!

To what not-so-ordinary things has God called and deployed you?

Who are the people in your life to whom you care called to love and serve and witness?

Because you have been with Jesus, what not-so-ordinary results might God bring from your ordinary life and service?



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