The lectionary readings for last Sunday included the account of Saul’s calling in Acts chapter 9. It’s a dramatic story that most of us know well and features one of the most important characters in the New Testament, a man that changed the face of Christianity and was utterly vital in God’s plan for the world … that’s right Ananias!
It’s easy to overlook some of those characters that occupy the bit parts and supporting roles in the Bible but they really are so important. If Ananias had not been faithful, if he had not been listening to God and brave enough to believe then who knows what would have happened to Paul’s ministry.
No doubt God would have still worked out his great plan but it’s important to remember that it’s not about a few people who do great things and grab all the headlines (as important as those people are). It is part of God’s amazing grace that he chooses to use a myriad of ordinary people to help achieve extraordinary things.
Just before Easter I went to the funeral of a lovely man named Ken. Ken and his wife were faithful members of a small Cheshire chapel that I preach at occasionally. They were always so encouraging to me as a young preacher, so kind and so interesting to talk to but I confess I only had a few brief conversations after services and did not know them that well. Ken’s funeral took place on an ordinary Friday in a small church not far from the chapel but the address was given by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, a man who for many represents the best thing to have happened to the Church of England for a good while.
Ken had been chief engineer in Uganda for 11 years during which he opened his house to many young people who needed support or lodgings. One of those young men was John Sentamu who lodged with Ken for 6 years. At his funeral on that spring Friday in Cheshire the Archbishop got into the pulpit and said if it had not been for Ken he would have dropped out of school and probably would not even be a Christian! As their friendship grew John and Ken began leading a youth group for Ugandan young people that welcomed 300 every night!
On the face of it, Ken may not have seemed very spectacular; his obituary will not be in any national Newspaper. He simply lived a good life shaped by a passionate belief in the transforming love of God and he allowed God to use all his gifts for His Glory. And how God used him. We do not know what God has in store for us. God may want some of us to be a Paul or a John but I know he wants all of us to be Ananias and Ken.