Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God of the Small Things

I think maybe our Gospel is too big. Yeah, that's right: too big.

I think God likes small. And I think he likes the inner, hidden things instead of the stuff everyone has to see.

Ever noticed the small things in the Bible? The mustard seed. The leaven. A small pearl, tucked away in a creature in the sea. A lost sheep or a lost coin. A worm to get the attention of a prodigal prophet. Children. The non-flashy, non-neon, non-anything that wouldn't seem to be "Biggie Things."

Instead, God uses the ordinary & the subtle. Of course, God can use the fire & lightening bolts & the earthquake. He certainly does at times, I think mainly to remind us of the small things.

Wanna bet on some ordinary things? How about a donkey speaking to Baalam. A basket-case of a baby floating down the Nile to be found by just the right daughter of Pharaoh, so that he could accomplish great things 40 years later. Or a shepherd boy & a slingshot up against the mighty giant with armor & a sword. One thrown stone; one fallen giant. David smiled. The people gasped. And God said, "Told ya."

Other subtle things. The still, small voice. The deep stirring of the heart.

And God has a way of favoring the small beginnings. The socially unimportant for whom he seeks justice. The widow whose mite was worth more than all the exalted & announced giving of the Pharisees. Eleven disciples that turned the world upside down. An old, childless couple with nothing but a promise of a nation from a yet unseen kid. A manger with 2 young teenagers, & an insignificant town was blessed with the Invasion of God into human history.

In fact, I don't think God likes the Big & Showy. Every time there is Big & Showy, people get involved, show themselves off with the 2x4 in their eyes, & just get in the way of God. The Pharisee on the street corner announcing his prayers & his work for God --- he has his reward, says Jesus. And all those rules those Big & Showy Godslingers like to force on everyone to make sure the small, inner attitude is forgotten --- typical of man; unheard of with God. When Christ spent time with the Down-&-Out instead of the Up-&-In, the Godslingers cried foul. How can anything good come out of partying with those people? They are not believers; don't' wash their hands; don't keep the rules; don't attend church; don't do the right things; don't ... the list just keeps going.

But God looks not at the Big & Showy Rule Book. In fact, I don't think God likes rules. God said he doesn't want Rule Keepers but Heart Followers who love justice & mercy & actually help folks. It's too small a matter to keep rules; that is what Pharisees do --- make the rules so everyone knows what to do & that makes everyone think they are righteous. But that is not what Jesus said: Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees ... (MATT 5:20).

It is far too easy to keep rules than to live the attitude.

It is too easy to compel behavior than to change lives. Come to think of it, Christ never tried to do the Big Thing & make any laws; change gov't; become a policy advisor to a political leader. In fact, Jesus didn't get involved with the Big Thing of politics at all. None of the disciples did either. No, it was the small things that changed lives --- feeding the poor; helping the homeless; demanding justice for everyone regardless of status or affiliation; laying down his life because the Pharisees didn't like it when the Rule Book Theology was challenged.

When we try to make it too big, we mess it up.

Yeah. Small things. Big results. What a concept. What a God.