ANDREW THE ORDINARY
By Pastor Glenn Pease
Colonel Bottomly was rising to the level of general in the United States Air Force. He was a proud self-sufficient man who needed nobody. He felt that if you could succeed without God you didn't need Him. As he rose in power he began to feel he could do as he pleased, and he did. He bombed across the border in the war in Viet Nam. It was a violation of the rules of war, but he thought he was above the rules, and he could do what other morals could not do. He didn't get by with it, however, and was facing a court martial. His whole world began to tumble in, and he was filled with stress. He called his son who was a Christian. When his son explained how he could become a child of God by receiving Jesus as his Savior, he prayed right over the phone and became a Christian.
Here was a famous man who became a Christian because of the witness of an ordinary an unknown man. This has been the case with many of the famous Christians of history. They are brought to Jesus by ordinary people. D. L. Moody was brought to Christ by an obscure Sunday School teacher. Charles Spurgeon was brought to Christ by an unlettered man. Peter is one of the most famous names in Christian history. It is hard to imagine anyone who has not heard of Peter, but he was brought to Jesus by his ordinary brother Andrew.
Andrew never did anything wild and spectacular like his live wire brother Peter. He never leaped over the side of the boat to walk on water. He never drew his sword to take on the Roman army single handed. He never preached to the masses like Peter did at Pentecost. Andrew was a quiet behind the scenes type of person. He had no great gifts that make him stand out. He was just an ordinary guy who loved to introduce people to Jesus. That is about all Andrew ever did in the record we have of his life. He represents the majority of Christians who feel ungifted and ordinary.
Some believers like Barnabas are extra-ordinary people. They are unique, and they have gifts that most do not have. It is not that ordinary people can't be like Barnabas. They can be like them and imitate some of their best qualities, but they can never be equal to them. Andrew did nothing that the rest of us could not do if we choose to do it. Andrew is connected with evangelism, but we let this word scare us. We think we have to be very gifted people to do evangelism. This is a failure to see that we are confusing the gifted evangelists with the ministry of evangelism. All Andrew did was invite people to come to Jesus. He was an inviter. He was not a leader, but a follower but he could invite others to come to Jesus to see for themselves what He could do in their lives.
We have this mistaken idea that if a person is filled with the Spirit he will become a dynamic soul winner leaving streaks of lightening in his path as he blazes across the stage of history. The New Testament reveals no such thing. Andrew was a quiet sort of guy who just confronted people one on one and said, "Let me introduce you to Jesus." Andrew knew Jesus was the Way and so he pointed others to the Way. He brought Peter to Jesus, and then Peter left Andrew in the shadow, for Peter was far more gifted. But Andrew did not fret and complain and feel bad about himself. He just kept bringing people to Jesus. He is the one who brought the lad with his lunch to Jesus, and Jesus used it to feed the multitudes. He is the one who brought the first Greeks to Jesus as well.
He was not the kind of guy who could preach like Peter, but he could point a man like Peter to Jesus. He could not feed the crowds, but he could point a lad to Jesus, and Jesus could feed the crowd. He could not change Greeks, but he could bring them to Jesus who could change them. Andrew was sort of a middle man. He linked people up with Jesus and made great things happen. He did not do the great things, but they happened because he did his ordinary things to prepare the way.
Do you think anything wonderful and marvelous ever happens without many ordinary things preparing the way? Do you think a space craft soars into the sky with its spectacular blastoff without a thousand and one ordinary people doing ordinary things first? Do you think any great performer could hold you spell bound with their gifts without the labor of many ordinary people behind the scenes? Do you think Billy Graham could put on his great crusades without the help of masses of ordinary people doing all sorts of ordinary things?
Ordinary people doing ordinary things is the foundation for human progress. In 1848 it was suggested that a bridge be built across Niagara. It would save miles of travel and solve many problems. But the cliffs were too steep, and the water was to wild to figure out how to begin. Then someone got the bright idea of offering ten dollars to the kid who could fly a kite from one side to another. The string could then be connected to a larger string, and then to a rope, and that to a cable, and they would have a start. The sophisticated engineers had a field day laughing at such an idea. But one young boy named Herman Walsh flew his kite across the chasm and collected his ten bucks, and thus a great bridge was begun with an ordinary boy flying an ordinary kite, and his ordinary string got this extra-ordinary project under way. It has been a blessing to many millions.
Jesus did not choose all Peters, but he choose some Andrews to be a part of his 12. Our culture says it is no good to be ordinary. If that is all you are, then you are not special. Never mind the fact that of the billions of people on this planet most are ordinary. The only way to be somebody is to be the best is the message we often get. This leads parents to put pressure on their children. David Wilkerson wrote, "It begins early. The first time little Tommy hits a home run in Little League, someone starts grooming him for the big leagues. When Susan gets a solo part in choir, she's told she is another Sandi Patti. The children's teachers keep telling them that every year in school is worth so many more dollars of income. The libraries overflow with books of how to take 10 easy steps to the top, how to get power over others with the right mental gimmicks, and how to make millions without trying."
The great sin of our culture is to be ordinary. But in the Bible we see the ordinary glorified, and in Andrew we see a specialist in the ordinary. John mentions Andrew 3 times in his Gospel, and in 2 of the 3 he is called Simon Peters brother. Don't get him confused with the many other Andrews. This is the Andrew who is the brother of Peter. Just say Peter and all know who you are speaking of, for Peter was extra-ordinary. He stands out as unique, and everybody know Peter. Andrew alone does not stand out, for Andrews are a dime a dozen.
Nobody ever said I want you to meet Peter the brother of Andrew. Peter's reputation stood on its own, but Andrew had to be more clearly identified because he was just ordinary. But remember, he too was one of the 12. Jesus chose, not only Peter to be a foundation of his church, but he also chose his ordinary brother Andrew. Jesus has a place in His kingdom for the ordinary, for they are always the majority. There are far more Andrews as fishers of men than there are Peters. There are far more ordinary pines than there are giant redwoods. The redwoods are marvelous and a wonder, but the ordinary trees are the key to building the houses for people to dwell in. And so also it is the ordinary Andrews who are the key to building the church of Christ.
Andrew did not try to imitate his older and more dynamic brother. He knew Jesus chose him for who he was. If He would have wanted another Peter, He would not have chosen him. He knew Jesus could use the ordinary as well as the extra-ordinary. Andrew knew he was loved and used by Jesus just by being himself. He didn't have to be like somebody else. He didn't have to be somebody different, or somebody better. He was okay in being who he was-ordinary Andrew.
If anyone had the right to burn with envy and long to be somebody else, it was Andrew. He had the hardest role to play among the 12 Apostles, for he was a fourth wheel that came with a tricycle. His brother Peter and the 2 brothers James and John became the inner circle. These 3 Jesus chose to be closer to Him than the rest. Here was Andrew who believed in Jesus first before Peter, and he too was a brother of one in the inner circle, and he too was a partner of these 3 in their fishing business, but he was left out of the inner circle.
I cannot pretend that this would not hurt me if I was Andrew. He was so close to the three in that inner circle, but he didn't make it. Yet we do not read of a single word of anger, envy, or resentment. Andrew could accept the fact that he was ordinary and not go all to pieces over it. He could do so because he knew that as an ordinary Christian he could do what really mattered, for he could bring people to Jesus. It may not be by preaching to large crowds like his brother, but one by one he could speak to people and point them to Jesus. And so Andrew became the patron saint of personal workers. The world is not being won by great preachers. Most of the people they reach are people that have been prepared by Andrews. It is the ordinary Christian who speaks to others about Jesus who touches most of the people who come to Him.
If Jesus was hard on the one talented man who buried that one talent it is because his kingdom depends on the faithfulness of the those one talented people. He cannot reach this world with unique people. He needs the masses of ordinary Andrews if the great commission is to ever be fulfilled. Some unknown poet wrote:
Common as the wayside grasses,
Ordinary as the soil,
By the score he daily passes
Going to and from his toil.
Stranger he to wealth or fame;
He is only what's-his-name.
Not for him the glittering glory,
Not for him the places high,
Week by week the same old story;
Try and fail and fail and try.
All his days seem dull and tame.
Poor old plotting what's-his-name.
Most of the books are written about the extra ordinary people like Peters and Pauls of history. But the fact is, it is the labor of the masses of ordinary Christians that keeps the kingdom of God going. Take away the Andrews and all your superstars would fall, for they all need Andrews to succeed. Billy Graham knows this and that is why the backbone of his crusades is the Operation Andrew Program. If the masses of ordinary Christians do not bring people there is very little that Graham can do to reach the masses.
An Andrew has to be a person who can play second fiddle and love it because he knows that it is essential that somebody does it, and that it is a valuable part of the whole, even though it does not get the recognition. Peter was so great and spectacular that we sometimes forget that Jesus chose His brother too. John Sebastian Bach was so great that other members of his talented family were lost in his shadow, but they also blessed people with their gift. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so eclipsed his brother Samuel that he is largely forgotten, but he also was a great poet.
Ezekiel Webster is not even remembered because of his famous brother Daniel Webster. It happens in every field of life that the ordinary are pushed off the pages of history by the extra-ordinary. There are hundreds of sermons on Peter for everyone on Andrew. Do you think Andrew is somewhere in heaven brooding over his place in history? Do you think he regrets being ordinary? He never showed it on earth, so we can count on it that he does not see being ordinary as a defect. He sees it as a link to the vast majority of people for whom Christ died.
Henry Ward Beecher was asked what he thought was the greatest thing a person could do and he replied, "The greatest thing a man can do is not to be a theologian or a scientist, but to bring someone to Jesus Christ." an ordinary man can't be and do a lot of things like being a great theologian or scientist, but he can bring others to Christ, and that is truly being great in the eyes of God. We can't all be chiefs, but we can all be chief winners. That is what Andrew was. He never became one of the key leaders among the Apostles, but he was a key influence in the lives of those who did become the chief leaders.
Andrew had an eye for the individual. Peter fished with the net and drew in the crowds, but in the midst of the crowds Andrew saw the individual. He fished for men with a pole. Nobody else saw the little boy with the lunch in that crowd with 5000 men plus women and children. Andrew was the one who noticed this little guy. He was just an ordinary kid and Andrew could spot the ordinary. Others were looking for the big shot, and people with power, and money and dignity. They looked for people who could help them solve the problem, but Andrew says, "I found this lad with 5 loaves and 2 fish."
The others were no doubt thinking that Andrew can be such a jerk at times. Here we are having a major problem and he comes up with a sack lunch. But Jesus honored Andrew's faith in the ordinary. He took that ordinary lunch and he made it do the job of an extra ordinary catering service. He did the most massive miracle of his career with this ordinary boy and ordinary lunch.
Andrew was vindicated, for Jesus said by this miracle that he could use the ordinary. Anybody can feed 5000 with a herd of cattle and a field of sweet corn and potatoes, or a ship full of fish and a field of wheat. But when you do it with a lad's lunch you know that God has entered history. God gets more glory when He works by means of the ordinary. When super gifted people serve the Lord much of the glory gets directed to them. But when ordinary people serve the Lord, the Lord gets most of the credit.
Andrew not only chose to focus on the ordinary lad with his lunch, but he made it career to focus on the ordinary. He went to the Sythians, who were the most barbaric people of the ancient world. Nobody else would bother with them, but again Andrew loved the ordinary, and the result is that he became the patron saint of both Russia and Scotland, for both of these peoples descended from the Sythians. Out of the Christian history of these people have come many of the great and famous Christians of history. But this would not have happened had there not been someone who said that ordinary people are worth reaching. Andrew was that man. By his focus on the ordinary he changed the course of history in very extra-ordinary ways.
Nobody but Jesus can know just how a great an impact this ordinary man has had in history, and in the kingdom of God. All we know for sure is that he is one of history's most famous ordinary men. The flag that George Washington flew in 1776 had the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George in the place of the stars. There are St. Andrew Cathedrals and the St. Andrew University. There are Christians ministries all over the world named after this ordinary Apostle whose focus on the ordinary proved that Jesus loves and uses ordinary people for His purpose.