Friday, October 1, 2010

Little Things

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (Jn. 12:24).
Jesus spoke the above words in reference to His then-imminent crucifixion. A single seed of grain is a small thing; likewise, the Passion seemed at the time an insignificant event to the world at large. Shattering as it was to those close to the situation, thousands of "troublemakers" were subjected to the same sort of brutal execution in the first century. Nothing seemed all that exceptional about Jesus's death; it was His Resurrection that turned Christianity into a world-encompassing movement. Still, it didn't take His followers long to realize that the Crucifixion had tremendous significance of its own; without atonement for the sins of humanity, Jesus's coming back to life would have been a noteworthy miracle, but His people wouldn't have been much better off eternally for it.

Obviously, no other human being can redeem the world singlehandedly--and anyone who sincerely believed God had given him or her that assignment would quickly be referred to a doctor. Still, many Christians seem to think that only "major" accomplishments "count"; and too many of us turn bitter or develop inferiority complexes if God gives us only "small" assignments. "This woman wrote fifteen bestselling Christian books; I just enter visitor addresses into the church database." "That man is an internationally known preacher who's converted thousands; the only person I've ever led to Christ is my seven-year-old daughter." The complaint comes in a hundred forms, but its basis is always the assumption "God must not think much of me; He never gives me anything important to do." Or we may turn that attitude on others: "He's only the church janitor.... She's too disabled to do much for God.... How can anyone get into a real seminary with just an inner-city background?"

We'd do well to remember Someone who was only a carpenter, had a hick-town background, and, once upon a time, didn't seem very important to the higher-ups. He may be doing great eternal works through the "little" deeds of the church janitor; He wants to do great things through all of us.

Drips and drops of water,
Falling from the sky,
Grow to floods and oceans
As the hours pass by.

Little, ticking seconds,
Passing by ignored,
Grow to hours so quickly,
Soon a squandered horde.

Little acts--of kindness
Or of selfish greed--
Set whole lives' directions,
Written in each deed.

Do not scorn things tiny,
Nor despise the small:
They may grow to great things,
Touching each and all.

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