Why it’s okay to be ordinary – Jesus the Carpenter

A historical point to the ordinary spread of Christianity

“In truth, most missionary works were not carried out by the apostles, but rather by the countless and nameless Christians who for different reasons— persecution, business, or missionary calling— traveled from place to place taking the news of the gospel with them.” – Justo G. The Story of Christianity.

Many of us believe that the people responsible for the high success of Christianity were the apostles and immediate disciples of Jesus. While that has its place in the world of truthfulness, it’s not the entire story. The fact of the matter is that the apostles were with Jesus, learned from him, and began the work of building Jesus’ church in Jerusalem. However, the spread of Christianity was not because the apostles in Jerusalem, it was because of the Diaspora Judaism – or the Dispersed Jews — Jewish people living outside of Jerusalem, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, or the Version of the Seventy, named as such because of an ancient legend that told of seventy Jewish scholars commissioned to translate the scriptures. After working independently, they found that their translations agreed exactly, which would later be proof of the legitimacy of the translation of the Bible as divinely inspired[note]The Story of Christianity Vol 1. Justo G.[/note].

Having a Greek translation of the Old Testament tells us that a generation outside of Jerusalem was rising that did not know Hebrew or Aramaic, and therefore had to use the Greek translations, so that when the Gospel of Jesus was heard at some of these dispersed places, it was easy for these Jews to understand Jesus’ message, and were able to take this message to the entire land of Palestine (the Roman Empire), which primarily spoke and understood the Greek language.

What we can learn from history

The point of this historical summary —— which is my favorite subject to talk about, as you can probably tell —— is that we learn that Christianity was simply carried out by ordinary people. When I first learned this, it made me cry, and I am not exaggerating. Because sometimes I think that we want to be a certain kind of individual with a certain kind of status and profession that would show people who we are.

In the Christian world, if you are not a pastor, then you are not serious about Jesus, or if you are not a preacher, then you cannot or will not express your faith —— you have to live your faith in private. But history tells us that it wasn’t the apostles that were responsible for the spread of Christianity, rather it was ordinary people like you and me —— yes, the traders, the slaves, the physicians, business owners, carpenters, teachers, the people running away from the Roman soldiers, those incarcerated, chefs, plumbers, etc —— yes, it was all those ordinary people in love with Jesus, while doing their work and going about their own business, would tell people about their experience and testimony of the one that resurrected from the death, and that the same way he resurrected, he could resurrect them from their spiritual, emotional, and even physical distress.

Jesus the Carpenter

The fact that Jesus was a carpenter, lets us know that this is true. God moved to our neighborhood and became a carpenter. I mean, if you are God and you want to come to the world you created to save it, you would probably have chosen to be the King, or an official Prophet (in Old Testament standards), or a Pastor (in our standards nowadays), or some type of political figure, the president, or something with a better societal standard and status. But Jesus came as a carpenter. And this is significant for us, because if Jesus came as a carpenter, it means that in our days, he would have come to take an ordinary job like yours and mine, and that if he was a customer support representative, an accountant, an electrician, a plumber, a school teacher, a doctor, a web designer, a graphic designer, a good ol’ millennial gamer, or a kitchen dinner cook – he would have still been able to carry out his purpose in life.

What you are is not the same as who you are. You may be an accountant, which is a what, but that does not mean that this is who you are. What you are, describes a function you are executing in the world, who you are, describes an identity you have in the world.

The idea that we have to become a certain kind of profession to be liked and considered successful is killing you. Yes, you read that right, becoming a profession is what we are becoming nowadays. We are taught that our entire lives will be defined by what we become. A doctor is more respected, an athlete is more liked, a business owner is richer, a Yale student is deeper, a Harvard graduate is smarter, an MIT guru is hired faster – and these achievements is what society teaches us to become. There is one problem though; it’s not possible for us to become a what (what we do), rather we become a who (who we are – identity). At the end of your life, when people are giving your eulogy, you want them to describe who you were and not what you were.

Who you become is more important than what you become.

So stay true to who you are, and where you are in life right now. It may not be where you ultimately want to be, but even in those places, you can still carry out the purpose that God has given you. I don’t think Jesus’ ultimate purpose in life was to execute the office of a carpenter, but while he was a carpenter he was still able to carry out his purpose. In fact, him being a carpenter was his preparation for his ultimate ministry and calling – he died on a wooden cross. He WAS a carpenter but BECAME our savior. In this way, Jesus fulfilled his calling when he died on a wooden cross to save us.

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