God’s No Stranger to Small

God’s No Stranger to Small

In my last post, I left you with this question:

Is it possible that the church of Jesus, in cultural exile today, has done the same thing? Shrunk her vision to returning to Yesteryear, to getting back to the culture of yesterday, recovering all that we have lost?

I say yes and here’s my explanation.

I was at a gathering of pastors who were invited to share the most exciting thing that had happened in their congregation the previous year. Many shared about transformation in the lives of people and ministries having an impact on their community. One pastor shared that his congregation had broken the Guinness World Record for the longest banana split. God had, he told us, provided a good price on bananas and ice cream. Maybe it was a community outreach or a morale booster for the church, but I could not help thinking about the Servant of the Lord. Given the mission of lighting up the world with the message of Jesus, why are we looking for bargains on bananas? The saddest thing is that this probably was the most exciting thing that happened in that church that year.

Has the church of Jesus become narrowly narcissistic? Do we even see the dark world around us and speak into it with the confidence of the Servant of the Lord that our news is worth sitting up and paying attention to? Or are we people who gather in our churches and care mostly about ourselves?

I’ve watched my childhood church in Mississippi. Some want a return to the music of past generations and are calling for the preaching of the sawdust trail tent meeting. They are bothered by a praise team that has replaced the choir. It is not popular that the youth group meets as a group on Wednesday night instead of sitting through the adult prayer-meeting. The foyer chatter is that somebody left to go to the Baptist church or that the kids left the lights on in the Sunday school room.

BIG STUFF. When your mission shrinks, the things that are BIG are actually very small.

Pastors know this. Fresh from a week of listening to God, writing a sermon, and preparing to deliver good news, the pastor is greeted on Sunday by the parishioner with a burning issue—the lack of toilet paper in the women’s restroom.

No doubt, the Servant’s resignation speech comes to mind:

I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity.”
—Isaiah 49:4

This happens to frightened people living in Exile. We narrow our concern to our own survival and preservation. We are afraid of losing what we have or had. When we are afraid, it is hard to be a light to the nations. We adjust our mission to our situation – closed in on ourselves. We feel small and insignificant. Having the Babylonian gods of success paraded in front of us is not helpful. They are so BIG, and we are small.

But God is no stranger to small. God does small quite well. Do you remember our stories?

  • A childless old couple named Abram and Sarah.
  • Forgotten slaves in Pharaoh’s mud pits.
  • A tiny band of survivors in the wilderness.
  • Gideon’s subtracted army.
  • Little Samuel sleeping near the Ark of Lord.
  • David, the runt of the litter, who took down Goliath.
  • A pregnant teenager named Mary.
  • Twelve followers you’d never have picked.
  • A boy with five loaves and two fish.
  • The widow’s mite.
  • A crucified Messiah bound in grave clothes, sealed in a tomb.
  • Disciples huddled in fear, knees knocking.
  • Seven scrawny churches in Revelation facing the Roman Empire.

God doesn’t need us to be big. He just needs us to realize that our work is BIG. God will not adjust his work to our interests. God invites us to adjust our interests to his work.

God is redeeming the whole world. Do we want in on it? If so, it will be a new thing like we have not seen before.

And it will be located in Tomorrow, not Yesteryear.

Our causes are not all wrong. They’re just too small for God.

Today’s post is an excerpt from The Church in Exile.

Comments

  1. I love this post. So very true. I have been in church for almost 53 years now, and I agree with what you are saying. I have seen the damage that small thinking does, and (thankfully) I am now part of a church that isn’t afraid to believe that God has a BIG mission and He even wants to use us to accomplish it! Keep writing the truth, courageous and compassionate brother!

  2. frank true says:

    THANKS FOR SOME PENETRATING THOUGHTS– WILL BE READING MORE- LOOKING FOR SOME PRACTICAL LIFE PRINCIPLES…AS IN AGREEMENT AND DISAGREEMENTS…IN ESSENTIALS UNITY-INNON ESSENTIALS LIBERTY-IN ALL THINGS CHARITY IE(-LUTHERS PRINCIPLES) KEEPING THE FAITH IN KANSAS CITY

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