Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: “You said, ‘Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing and I find no rest.’”
Thus you shall say to him, “This says the Lord: ‘Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted, I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.
And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them, for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,’ says the Lord. ‘But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.’” – Jeremiah 45:2-5 (NKJV)
I once sought great things for myself. I built lofty air castles, clouds puffed up with self-aggrandizement. I was seeking fame and comfort from the world. But I realized this week that I must seek the kingdom of God instead (Matthew 6:33). I must also chase God rather than the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). Air castles are one of the devil’s distractions. I’m not a great writer or thinker. I don’t have great talent or beauty. I’m mediocre and that’s okay. God can use me just like he can use the “great” people.
Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio once said, “The world wants great, not a fish.” This world wants great things and people because it’s impressed by numerical superiority, physical strength and perfection, and formal degrees. By contrast, it despises what is small, weak, foolish, and base. This world certainly doesn’t want a fish – a sweaty Jewish carpenter and preacher named Jesus Christ who declares that he is Almighty God, Savior, Lord, and Judge of all mankind.
Sadly, the church now thinks like the world. We seek great things for ourselves. We love to crunch numbers, obtain formal degrees, write books and articles, and attend conferences, and then lord all these things over less “fortunate” Christians. We don’t seek the face of God in prayer. We don’t value the knowledge of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit either.
Churches and “star” Christians used to fight one another over membership, tithes, salvations, and baptisms. Now they have social network wars. Who can get the most Twitter followers, Facebook likes, YouTube views, and email subscribers? These numbers don’t even matter! At least evangelists still count the saved and baptized. Churches today want to “up-size.” They seem to forget that some are called to plant and others to water, but only God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). We don’t unite in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit. We don’t fight Satan either – just each other.
The church has a long history of despising the weak, ugly, and base. Here in America the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement might have been prevented if the church had said “no” to the world’s definitions of beauty and value and preached the gospel of Christ to everyone instead. David Brainerd (1718-1747) and Samuel Worcester (1798-1859), evangelists to Native Americans, could tell the church today much about the ways and things of God.
The kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of men. He wants small, not great! God also wants the foolish rather than the wise, the weak rather than the strong, and what is despised rather than what is beautiful and valued (1 Corinthians 1:25-29). Why? Only in what is small, foolish, weak, and despised does the glory of God shine through. If we’re great, wise, strong, or valued, then who receives glory? We do. And that robs God of the glory due to him.
- God spoke the world into existence with just four words: “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3).
- God started the world with just two people: Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-2). He replenished the world after the flood with just eight people: Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives (Genesis 9-10).
- Israel entered Egypt as a group of seventy (Genesis 46:27). 430 years later, they left as a multitude of millions (Exodus 12:37).
- Beginning with Cain, God creates each human life using a microscopic sperm and egg. Each adult person started as a tiny embryo!
That’s just physical life. Now let’s examine the spiritual.
- God used Moses and Aaron to bring his people out of Egypt (Exodus 2-12).
- God used Gideon and his 300 men to rout a great Midianite army and to prevent Israel from claiming glory for itself (Judges 7:2-7).
- God used Jonathan and his armor-bearer to rout a great Philistine army. They knew that “nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).
- God used David to kill the giant Goliath and deliver Israel from the Philistines (1 Samuel 17).
- “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed … the least of all the seeds” (Matthew 13:31-32, NKJV). Full grown, it’s like a tree with birds in its branches. This kingdom, a stone cut from a mountain without hands, will destroy the anti-Christ (Daniel 2:44-45).
- Jesus Christ began his heavenly kingdom with just twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1).
- After Christ’s ascension, 3000 were saved through Peter’s preaching (Acts 2:41). In some places, believers turned the world upside down (17:6). They later conquered Rome!
- The Protestant Reformation, which led millions of people from spiritual darkness to light, began with Martin Luther nailing 95 theses on the doors of a church.
God loves the small things! When we are small, God is great (Malachi 1:14). When we are foolish, He is wise (Proverbs 8-9, Jude 25). When we are weak, God is strong (Psalm 68:34). His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are despised, God is treasured (Matthew 13:44-46). His beauty shines forth (Psalm 27:4, Isaiah 33:17). While the world forsakes us, God knows our names and the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30, Luke 10:20).
Let us not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). Let us not be conformed to this world or think too highly of ourselves either (Romans 12:2-3). Instead, let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds, seek the perfect will of God, and present our bodies a living sacrifice to him (12:1-2). Let us boast in our weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9). His grace is sufficient!
It’s not just melodies and harmonies
That catches His attention
It’s not just clever lines and phrases
That causes Him to stop and listen
But when anyone set free,
Washed and bought by Calvary begins to sing.
— “Favorite Song of All” (YouTube)
Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forsake His own.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.
— Kittie Suffield, “Little is Much When God is In It” (YouTube)