How To Love the Ordinary

Humans love the extraordinary. 

But we usually feel the ordinary is boring, and we even have a word for it. “Mundane” is a synonym of ordinary, and it means “what lacks interest or excitement.”

But if the ordinary is mundane, then life is depressing. We get the Monday morning blues as we consider slogging through another week of work. If we fold laundry and clean toilets on the weekend, then we’ve fallen short. 

Sunday School lessons can reinforce this. Who studies the boring genealogies? Can you imagine teaching a class of fifth-grade boys the significance of 1 Chronicles 1? Please let us know if this is your life verse: “The sons of Seir: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.”

Yet the Bible regularly presents the lives of ordinary people.

Most unusual is the birth of Jesus, the King of Kings. Luke 2:7 tells us, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

And when an angel of the Lord appears, with the glory of the Lord shining, what is the location? Some ordinary shepherds out in the field. 

Consider that one of the Twelve Apostles is Bartholomew. When is he mentioned? Only when all the apostles are listed! As far as I know, the Bible records nothing else about his life. What an extraordinary life: after Jesus prays through the night, he handpicks Bartholomew to serve as one of the twelve apostles. Yet literally nothing he said or did is recorded for us. His life is shrouded in obscurity, just like most of our lives.

Still, we persistently think the ordinary is unimportant. Perhaps Bartholomew was a mediocre apostle!

Let’s meditate on Ephesians 2:8-10,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God teaches us that our very being, our identity, our nature is significant. The New Living Translation says we are God’s “masterpieces.” And our daily work? A sovereign, omniscient, all-good, glorious, Triune God prepared it beforehand. There is significanceintent, and purpose to the everyday work of our obscure lives. 

Consider how G.K. Chesterton expresses God’s delight in monotony:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Jesus taught us to consider the lilies of the field; they show us that God provides for our needs. The Incarnate God pays attention to ordinary lilies! It makes sense that he cares about his sacred image-bearers too. 

I don’t know what extraordinary spectacle you might be seeking today. But maybe all we need is a fresh perspective on our mundane lives. If you want to love the ordinary, then savor what God has said about it. 

Giving Credit:

Photo by Xuan Nguyen on Unsplash