Ananias, a disciple who is mentioned only once, was called upon to go and to pray. When God gave him a vision that Saul, who’d been persecuting Christians, was in Judas’s house recovering from his Damascus Road experience with Jesus, Ananias obeyed God. He walked down Straight Street, knocked on Judas's door, and prayed for Saul. It was a bold action, but the steps that carried him across town were giant strides in furthering the Gospel. Because he went, Saul, who we know as Paul, also went. Converted, he became the most influential missionary of all time, and Truth was spread around the world.
Mere sentences later, Barnabas played a pivotal role in the unity of the Church. Preceded by his reputation as a persecutor, Paul was not welcomed into the Jerusalem church. Speculation that his conversion testimony was a ploy to kill off the saints, they kept him at a distance. Until Barnabas. Barnabas had already proven his devotion as a child of God, selling property in Cyprus to distribute to the needs within the Church. He was trusted. So when Paul encountered resistance from the church elders, Barnabas put his good reputation at stake enabling Paul to gain a new one, a reputation based on his new life rather than Gospel-opposer he had been. The hesitant church leaders opened their hearts and homes to Paul, and he became part of the brotherhood, unified with the band of believers who’d spent time with the Jesus he’d encountered near Damascus.
In the next chapter, we meet Cornelius, a soldier who prayed and sought the face of God. His faithful devotion in his daily life gained God’s attention, and a door opened up for Gentiles to be accepted in the faith. Because of the favor of God upon this ordinary servant of Rome, the Holy Spirit became available to all Gentiles, and the rip of prejudices between Jews and other cultures was mended. As a result, disciples were released from religious small-mindedness and empowered to see the grander scope of God’s willingness to reconcile all people to Himself.
Squeezed between these stories is a miracle in which Peter raised a woman from the dead. While the telling of it certainly celebrates what God did for this one known as both Tabitha and Dorcas, it also gives a tiny peek at her role in the Church. Widows gathered around morning her death, and amid their lament, they showed Peter the garments she’d made them. Luke recorded her role as one who was "full of good works and almsdeeds." Yep. That little note is in this passage for a reason.
God, it seems, is showcasing the ordinary. The plain church elder who may have felt that he didn’t have a lot to contribute to this wonderful new Kingdom he’d become a part of. The zealous giver who worked from the pew, always in the shadows of others more visible in their anointing. The employee of Rome, continually seeking soul-liberty. The housekeeper who stitched hope into garments that would warm those whose lives had been altered by loss, a loss perhaps she herself shared. These were the Plain Janes of the Bible. Like us, they were without pedigree, short on talent. To some they probably looked like has-beens or never-will-bes, but to God, they were shining examples of Christianity. Gospel carriers in their own way.
We, too, have a role in the Kingdom. Like Ananias, we can go, and we can pray. Like Barnabas, we can give, encourage, and unify by believing the best of our God and of others. Like Dorcas, we can use our talents to serve someone and ease life's aches a little. Like Cornelius, we can keep seeking until our breakthrough comes, permitting others to rise because of our persistence. Scripture repeatedly reminds of the usefulness of the ordinary. It may seem common to us, but it’s Kingdom to God.
Tip/Tidbit: You are important to God, and your contributions to His Kingdom matter. Today, don't underestimate the power of prayer or your ability to serve in word or deed.