I had a 80-year-old physics teacher in high school named Mr. Webb that would read motivational statements off a bookmark to encourage “struggling students.” He was known to be a bit rough around the edges, so the administration figured a bookmark with 100 motivational statements would help him be more uplifting. So whenever a student would answer a question completely wrong, he, in the most sarcastic manner, would pull out the bookmark and read something like “you’re extraordinary.”
Everyone, seemingly, wants to be extraordinary. No one wants to be perceived as average. I’m not sure if this is something intrinsic to our human nature or something that has been imparted to us in adolescence and, to be honest, I didn’t listen enough in psychology to give you an answer. I do know that I’ve never heard an impassioned plea from a parent, teacher, or coach imploring a kid to “go out there and be average.” This kind of thing is good, I suppose. Perhaps it’s simply motivational rhetoric that could move someone out of their lethargy. I digress.
A few days ago I was reading Acts as a part of Center City’s Life Journal Reading Plan. This verse stuck out to me particularly:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
This is the same Peter who in the previous chapter healed the crippled beggar outside the temple saying “silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth get up and walk.” This is the same Peter that told a group of onlookers after the healing, “you killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” This is the same Peter that people dragged the sick into the streets in hopes that his shadow would pass over them and heal them.
How could ordinary men walk with such confidence and power? (If this is the definition of ordinary, I want it to be ordinary.) Look at the last part of the verse. The people were astonished and they took note that Peter and John had been with Jesus. That’s it. Spend time with Jesus and watch what happens to your life. If you lack boldness or courage, spend time with Jesus. If you lack the faith to believe that God is who He says He is, spend time with Jesus. If you feel stuck, spend time with Jesus.
I’m not into formulas but this seems to be one that works.
Will all of life’s problems go away? Absolutely not. These same men were imprisoned, flogged, and beaten in the next chapter. But, “the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” When you have spent time with Jesus it’s impossible to have the same perspective. Everything is different. Even your suffering is seen through a different lens. Jesus has that effect on people.
So spend time with Jesus and watch what happens. I dare you.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)