It is easy to romanticize Christianity. What I mean is we often have the idea in our minds, that to truly honor God, we have to do something big or radical that puts us on the list of Christians who changed the world. We want to make our Christianity an adventure where we do big things for God and make a huge impact on the world. I am all for making a huge impact on the world (we serve a big God who can use us to do big things). There is, however, something dangerous about having such romantic ideals about your Christianity. First, there is the danger that you become like the Scribes and the Pharisees that Jesus spoke of in Matt. 6 who pray on the street corners to be heard by men. In other words, there is the danger that your attempts at big things for God are really just big attempts for recognition and praise in the eyes of people. Secondly, there is the danger that you begin to think that doing little things for God doesn’t matter.
The first danger is one that we all face—pride. This danger is easy to address biblically. The Bible continually calls us to a life of humility, where we are to die to self and live for the glory of God. In Phil. 2:4-11 (possibly the most famous text on humility in the New Testament), Paul indicates that the way of glory is the way of the cross. There is much that could be said about this text but I think the main point of Paul’s teaching on humility here is not to wow us with Christ’s humility (though it should wow us) but to command us “to have the same attitude” in ourselves (cf. Phil 2:4). Every knee is going to bow before Christ in the end, so why waste another minute living for the praise of men? The first danger is easy to address with Scripture.
The second danger is one most people seldom think about, and is much more subtle, but equally dangerous. One reason why it is dangerous to think that doing little things for God doesn’t matter is because some people will never do big things for God. What I mean is that most people will never go overseas and plant a church where a million people come to know Jesus. Most people will never be the president of a large evangelical denomination or pastor a megachurch. But in reality, I think there is no such thing as doing little things for God. That is why Jesus says things like, “as you did unto the least of these, you did unto me.” But we are so culturally conditioned in America to think that success is defined numerically that we begin to think that whatever we are doing isn’t enough, we ought to be doing something bigger and better. I am afraid that sometimes in the midst of wanting to do big things for God, the little things are swept under the rug because they seem less important. There are ‘little’ things God has placed before us to do every day, and when we seek to display the gospel in doing those little things every day, God’s name is magnified!
It’s not necessarily wrong to want to do ‘big’ things for God, but it could be, especially if your doing ‘big’ things is keeping you from faithfully displaying the gospel in your friendships, in your marriage, and in your church. It could be wrong if your desire to do big things is keeping you from sharing the gospel at your current job. There is a particular group of people that the New Testament addresses that would never do ‘big’ things for God (e.g. slaves). A slave didn’t have the right to leave his master and plant a church, or go traveling around preaching the gospel in the synagogues. Yet despite their lack of rights and their low standing in society, people like Peter and Paul understood a slave’s witness to the gospel to be so important that they personally addressed the situation of slaves in their letters and called them to live faithfully before God proclaiming the gospel in whatever situation they were in.
In this post, I just wanted to introduce the idea that God is glorified in the ‘little’ things and everyone in every situation has the opportunity to make much of God. Even those who have no social rights can do huge things for the glory of God because God is glorified when we proclaim his glory in any and every situation. It should be noted that the Bible never condones slavery, but it also never calls for the end of the institution of slavery. In fact, I think there are good biblical reasons why. I do want it to be known that I believe slavery is a clear moral evil. However, in my next post I intend to address the issue of slavery and why the New Testament authors never called for the abolition of slavery. I also intend to address how this relates with our tendency to quit the things we start. I hope this post made you think. Winners Never Quit, pt. 2, is on its way . . . in the meantime thank a brother or sister in Christ who has quietly been serving you at church but no one seems to notice.