Yesterday my wife and I were driving to pick up our two younger kids and talking about some of the different aspects of church planting and both the blessings and the challenges it brings. She said something that struck me, so I asked her to write about it. The phrase she said that caught me was, “but I just don’t think there is such thing as ‘something small’ for the kingdom.” Below is what she had in her heart on the issues.
I have lived in America my entire life, and as someone who grew up as the information age took off, I have witnessed the birth of many things: the mainstreaming of the internet, direct messaging, pagers, cell phones, text messaging, social media, reality TV, game show winners and MUCH more. I have seen and even been a part of “Generation ME” (as some studies have coined it). My entire adult life I have worked students of various ages, and have not only read quite a few studies on generational tendencies, but actively watched the way different aspects of our society have formed the minds and desires of this generation. One of the most common words to describe the current generation is “entitled. “
But this is not a new thing at all! George Santayana is most commonly credited for the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Let us not be quick to forget how incredibly entitled the colonists were when they landed on the East Coast of what is currently the USA. Let us not forget that fame and fortune were the driving factors of most of the big advances in American History. And all the while we were parading it in images of light with sayings like “Manifest Destiny,” instead of genocide and “Separate but equal” when we really should be talking about a cast system.
The most heartbreaking part to me is that much of American History is wrapped in “Christianity,” but when I go back and looks more like a hunt for power, wealth and fame. It is as if Satan himself infiltrated many churches and began to twist scripture in whatever bits and pieces he wanted to in order to justify worldly desires. The most dangerous belief deeply engrained in our culture is that “We are GREAT! We are BETTER than others. And we DESERVE MORE than we currently have.” I think that is the most cunning lie this nation has accepted. It is so engrained that even many Christian’s succumb to it.
Before you stop reading because it seems like I am bashing fame, wealth, and power, or desire to be more or have more, please know that I am not concerned with judging any of those things. I am merely trying to work through desires of the heart and bring them into what the life and teachings of Jesus has to say about it.
On the other hand, let me not be too quick to defend fame, wealth, and power. Let me not be too quick to say, “But does God really say that we can’t have wealth, power or fame?“ That sounds all too much like the first voice of Satan in Gen 1:3 “ “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?’” Covetousness is a sin that races through the veins of our culture and our humanity, and I don’t want to make little of it. It is a heart issue and this is what I am trying to reconcile.
So what is the difference between wanting to do the most for the Lord with what you have and wanting just wanting more? The short answer is that “Self” is the difference. Who’s kingdom am I really trying to build? Where is my heart?
While I myself want to do great things for the kingdom of God, I am now asking myself this: “how much of that desire comes from God and how much comes from the culture that I have grown up in?” After all Bigger is better in this culture. As a society we define people by their fame, fortune, and power.
But Jesus did not come to take power, to seek fame, or to become wealthy. He was born a bastard child, raised as a carpenter’s son (not a career path of fortune in his day), and his message was not popular. He was rejected and hated by the religious and political institutions of the day. He was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and was killed in the place of a renowned murder.
Yes, Jesus had a following, but his following was not loyal. In John 6 After doing miracles, Jesus had a conflict and a “Hard teaching” and those who were following him for their own benefit and own fame turned back. Reading John 6 in its entirety will give much more context in that. Later Judas and Peter betrayed and denied Jesus, and they were supposed to be the closest to him.
Jesus did not have a life of glory as it is defined on Earth today. So why is it that much of our Theology leans towards blessing and glory, power, and wealth?
Isn’t the best lie is wrapped in partial truth? Won’t any 5 year old know that already? John 8:44 describes Satan as “the father of lies” We will take verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and personalize it to our context and our idea of promise. We will take
So what is the lie and what is the truth?
The lie is this, “I AM MORE”- from the beginning of time, that is the foundational lie…”I CAN BE LIKE GOD… I CAN HAVE IT ALL”
The truth is this “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
As I Corinthians 12:12-31 discusses how we work as a body and some parts are seen, while others are unseen.
Will I be content being the big toe of the body of Christ? Or will I ONLY be content if I am the mouth? If I am ever in a place where I think something God is brining into my life is “too small,” may I remind myself that nothing is small when done for the kingdom of God. Let me be reminded of Luke 16:10, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Let me work faithfully on what is right in front of me and not seek only opportunities that are flashy or come with status.