While driving to band competition this weekend, we came across some more church signs. I’m kind of bummed that I lost my list that I was collecting on a scrap of paper. There were some doozies on it that I was going to share, but I can’t find the paper and can’t remember any of them. That’s probably not a bad thing. Anyway, here are some from this weekend:
“For every Goliath there is a stone.”
Sigh. Not the point of that story, and what if the trial you’re calling Goliath isn’t meant to be stoned, what if I’m meant to walk through it to learn perseverance, what does that do to someone who encounters a trial and it’s hard and he thinks maybe he just doesn’t have enough faith, because, well, church said for every Goliath there is a stone? I think what bothers me about it is that it’s trite and it implies that life will always be easy going for those who believe. It’s kind of a triumphalistic way of looking at life. So is the next sign.....
“Expect big things from God. He delivers.”
Sigh. It’s not all about us and our wants and expectations, and we really don’t need to be encouraged to think that way. I guess this one really depends on what we mean by expect big things. How about desiring God more for who He is and what He has already done than what big things we ‘expect’ (read that demand) from Him. How about trusting God to honor His Word, because His word is true and He is trustworthy - isn’t that a big enough thing once you start wrapping your brain around it? He owes us NOTHING. We owe Him everything. He has promised big things for those who believe, but we need to be careful to rightly divide His word and think rightly about Him. He has promised to be with us to the end and to care for His sheep, and we can trust Him in this, definitely. Absolutely our God does big things, but what if being faithful in the small things is exactly where He wants me? What if walking day in and day out and being faithful to love and serve my family and share and invest in my neighbors is the big thing I need to be about today, exactly where I’m supposed to be? Am I sinning if I’m content in the small things, too? Must we ALWAYS be looking for big things?
I’m not at all sure I’m making sense or expressing well what I want to be saying, and I guess someone could well say I’m making too much of this, but a lot of teaching today is about looking for bigger, seeking MORE, dreaming BIG dreams, and it seems to breed a kind of discontent that I don’t think we’re supposed to nurse. If I have a burden to go and do a big thing that is biblical and in line with our calling as Christians, then get to it, yes! I'm not saying we shouldn't think big about sharing the gospel and ministering to a lost and dying world or that we should develop some kind of tunnel vision where all we see is our own little bubble and ignore the rest of the world. But there’s nothing wrong in desiring to be faithful in the daily, everyday, either.
But one thing I fear that people hear from this message is a worldly kind of ‘big things,’ not spiritual ones, if you know what I mean. Too much Joel Osteen and prosperity stuff out there poisoning evangelicalism not to have our desired ‘big things’ be materialistically bent. I know not all pastors mean that with their dream big teaching, but I think that’s how a lot of people hear it. I spent a lot of my young adult life whining and begging for God’s direction about the BIG thing I was supposed to be doing with my life and so scared I’d miss it. What I’m beginning to realize is that to live a peaceable life in faithfulness before my God is not a small task. Not all of us are going to have BIG, known things that we do for the Kingdom. For every person in the Bible whose name we know, there were lots of other faithful believers whose names we do not know but who were faithful day in and day out, and in being faithful were part of the movement that ‘turned the world upside down.’
It is no small thing to faithfully teach a little Sunday School class week in and week out, or to faithfully train up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, or to sponsor a Bible club halfway around the world, or to be actively sharing the faith with people and having the gospel cross our lips often, or whatever it is right for you to do. In all my seeking counsel from church leaders and pleading for what I was supposed to be doing, because we get it so drilled into us all the time to dream big, what I was missing was that I don’t even do the little things well sometimes. I still struggle with being faithful to share the gospel with my neighbors down the street - and that is a big thing, to understand that we are called to be salt and light and to make disciples as we go. Some of us will go far away and even have a large platform for this, and some of us will be ‘as we are going’ right here in a smaller sphere of influence, but we all have an obligation to be sharing the gospel, and that, my friends, is a big thing. And I am totally preaching to myself here. I am guilty. So, I guess the big thing I ask of God is to please grant me a heart with a burden to obey and love Him forever and to please put in me a supernatural, God-given compassion for the lost who need to hear the good news, in all things, wherever He chooses to lead me. A renewed life, a regenerated heart, THAT is a BIG thing.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” And on the back of the same sign, “Faith without works is dead.”
Wowza. Scripture verses, biblical thoughts, wonder what church that one is....wait a minute...that’s not even a church sign. It’s an Oil Muffler Shop. Huh. Better theology on the mechanic’s shop sign than on the churches we passed. There’s something wrong with us, evangelical church people. Seriously. Hello? Good on ya, car place people.