I remember the anticipation I felt as a child snooping around my grandmothers Christmas tree, inspecting the packages, waiting for the adults in the house to say it’s time to open the presents. I would search for the biggest package under the tree and look to see whose name was written on the tag. I have to admit, if the tag had my cousin’s name on it, or my brother’s, I felt a tinge of disappointment. As a kid I believed the best gift would be the biggest gift. I was a child with childish values but some of us never outgrow the bigger is better myth.
In my book Think Red, I take a look at the values of the typical North American church and compare them to the values of Jesus. More often than not, an honest comparison will reveal a disparity between the two. One of the values I reflect on is the value we place on BIG verses small.
Our world values big things, like big TVs, big trucks, big houses, big stores, and mega churches with big TVs. Jesus, on the other hand, seems to value small things. Things like cups of cold water given to little children and small coins given to God by poor widows. When he told the disciples about his vision to usher in God’s kingdom on earth and his plan to build a church at the gates of hell, I don’t think he thumped his chest and said to Peter, “Go big or go home!” Instead, he said, God’s kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, which would eventually grow and provide shelter for all types of characters. He also compared his vision of the kingdom to a small pinch of yeast that a woman worked into a lump of meal; in secret this invisible kingdom would change the entire culture around it. Eventually the meal would have the same properties as the yeast.
If you have set your heart on following Jesus and want to be a part of his scheme to make earth look more like heaven, it will help to remember his strategy of small beginnings. You don’t have to be . . . or give . . . or own . . . the biggest and the best to make an eternal impact in your neighborhood; you simple have to follow the advice of Mother Teresa who said, We can all do small things with great love.
What small thing can you do today to express God's love to someone in your neighborhood who might be feeling unloved?
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.