big things and small things (by ben)

 

the sun. asia.  niagara falls.  cawker city, ks.  irish wolfhounds.

rhode island.  nanometer.  younis edwan.  microhyla nepenthicola.

big things.

small things.

i have been wrestling recently with the idea of what it means to do “big things” in the kingdom of God.  it seems that i have had multiple conversations that have really challenged me about what it means to do the “big things” that jesus asks us to do.

it has been a difficult wrestling match.  jesus always seems to win when we wrestle…(sometimes i think he knows that i have a bad hip.  every time we wrestle my hip pops out of joint and i walk away limping.)  *wink

all that to say it has taken a long time for my way thinking to shift.  years.  literally.

i have always wanted to do those “big things” that you would hear about at church as a little kid.  move to afrika.  be a “billy graham”.  become a missionary in the jungles of the amazon.  move to the inner city and start a center for the homeless, addicted & prostitutes.  sell all i have and give it to the poor.

am i alone in this?  isn’t there something in your mind that when you read through that list says, “wow.  those are some big things?  the people that do that stuff are really doing some big things for the kingdom of God?”

i guess what i am getting at is that i don’t think that any of those things are “big things” in jesus’ mind.  please don’t misunderstand me here.  i think that all of those things are great and truly are important, but i think that in jesus’ mind those things are the “small things”.  they are the things that jesus asks beginners to do.  they are the “small things” that we get to start with in jesus’ mind.

and going on from there he saw two other brothers, james the son of zebedee and john his brother, in the boat with zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.  immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

~matthew 4:21-22

[then] he…saw a tax collector named levi, sitting at the tax booth.  and he said to him, “follow me.”  and leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

~luke 5:27-28

[jesus] said to him, “…sell all you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

~luke 18:22

jesus almost casually starts with the things that i previously considered the “big things”;  leaving family, quitting your job, moving to the inner city or the amazon, selling everything, etc.  these apparently are “small things” to jesus.

as i continued to wrestle with him (before he knocked my hip out of place), i then began to ask him, “if the things that i thought were ‘big’ are actually ‘small’, then what are your ‘big things’?”

i felt like he immediately responded with, “do you love me?”

“yes.  you know i love you.”

“feed my sheep,”  he waited a few seconds and again asked, “do you love me?”

“you know i love you.  i would do anything for you!  i would kill for you!”

“tend my sheep.”  same thing, a few seconds went by and there it was again, “do you love me?”

i was mildly irritated at this point and responded appropriately, “dang it!  you know i love you!  why do you keep asking me this?!?!  if someone has told you any different i am going to find them and cut off their ear…”

he calmly replied, “feed my sheep.”

this all sounded oddly familiar to me…

honestly, what if this was the last conversation that you ever had with jesus?  you might think that he was trying to tell you something “big”, right?

there have been times that i have contemplated what i would tell my loved ones on my death bed.  what would be the last thing i would say before i died.  its kind of a romanticized thought, but it has the potential to be the most important thing i would ever say.  i would want it to be something “big”.

jesus told us a couple of “big things” before he left.  when he was asked which commandment was the “biggest”  he replied with two commandments:

love God and love others.

his “deathbed phrase”, so to speak, is what we call it our “big” commission:

“all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that i have commanded you.  and behold, i am with you always, to the end of the age.”

~matthew 28:18-20

i have to be honest, these are not the type of things that used to pop into my head when i thought about doing “big things” for the kingdom of God.  my default settings were way off what jesus is saying here.  but over time, a shift occurred.

this shift has lead me to look at things in an entirely different light.  those “big things” that i used to think were only for the hardcore followers of jesus, actually seem fairly easy and realistic.  i feel like anyone could become a missionary.  anyone could move to afrika.  would it really be such a huge task to sell your house and move into the hood?  would it really be a difficult choice to follow jesus if he invited you to.  i believe that anyone could do these things.

what i think is a much more difficult task, is to learn to love God and love those around you in such a way that it brings about a life change toward jesus.  you begin to reorient your schedule, rest, work, even the way you think, in order to live your life in such a way as to literally represent the life that jesus lived within the context of your own life.  this is a “big thing.”

now when i think about the people in my life that are doing “big things” for the kingdom of God, i think about them discipling their children, creating a culture in their life that is centered around jesus, translating the good news into a comprehensible language,  living in obedience to what jesus commanded us to do.  i think about them teaching people what it looks like to love God.  i think about them purposefully and intentionally loving the people in their lives.  i think about them making disciples.

love God.  love others. make disciples, that make disciples, that make disciples…these are not “small things”.

2 thoughts on “big things and small things (by ben)

  1. Boy, do I ever track with you on this one. All good Christians want to get behind the girl going to Germany, but when she stays in the States and does many of the same tasks she was going to do overseas … will they still? Will be an interesting life study.

    But man, I love getting to do the “big” things with the Myers. Favorites!

  2. “Our Lord never asks questions until the perfect time. Rarely, but probably once in each of our lives, He will back us into a corner where He will hurt us with His piercing questions. Then we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than our words can ever say.” -Oswald

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