Perhaps it is because I am getting older. Or perhaps it is due to the fact that nothing surprises me anymore. But it seems every year gets a little more extreme. Everything is higher-resolution, super-sized, high-energy, maximum-strength, and full-throttle: sometimes all at the same time. It is nothing anymore to hear from a dais full of men who are pastoring churches of 25,000 or more people. Back when I was small, a church of several hundred was considered large. But today, it is not unrealistic to have mega churches grow by that number in one day. Big is in. Big is better. It is not that I am against big churches. In fact, I admire and seek to emulate pastors such as Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybel to name just a few. These are giants who have left a lasting impact upon the face of Christianity. My question is this: What about the rest of us who are followers of Jesus? What about those of us who attend the church rather than lead.
I’m talking about run-of-the-mill, basically ordinary Christians. What can we contribute to a God that can move mountains, cure “incurable” diseases, sustain life, and perform miracles that Hollywood special effects people cannot even imagine? The God where anything, everything is possible.
It can appear that God is calling his people to big, inspiring, and audacious things. Doesn’t God want us to be a spiritual LeBron James — soaring to amazing spiritual heights? Taking on the world. Doing great things for God.
But what about all the Christians who are not able to do audacious things? What about the vast majority? Maybe you feel you are one of them. Maybe you believe your contributions to Northstar and to His kingdom are not big or bold or brazen enough. Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Three little words jumped out to me: every hidden thing. Does it ever feel like no one sees, notices, or cares what you are doing? Does it ever feel like nothing you do makes any difference? As parents we spend our days wiping noses and instilling Godliness. As spouses, we invest in one another and our life-long covenant. As friends we listen and encourage. At church we do so many little things: greeting a stranger at church, taking interest in a person in our small group, directing traffic to name just a few.
The fact is we do so many hidden things, that don’t see the light of recognition. But God does. He sees it all and His word says it will all be brought into judgment, both the ways we’ve failed and ways we’ve succeeded. The little things, the unnoticed actions, the ignored words, the unrecognized deeds, each one matters. For nothing is hidden from Him. All those small things add up. In Sundays message, I said that because of you, and all the contributions you make, is why we can do what we do as a church.
Fortunately for Northstar, God put some remarkable people who without fanfare weekly step up and invest in others. People who have shifted gears from a “consumer” to a “contributor” mentality. People who are not just interested in being entertained on Sunday mornings, but rather come with a heart to serve.
Frankly, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching folks work behind the scenes to make Northstar even better. Every week I see people who have a heart to serve and have a willingness to sacrifice and give so that God can do amazing things to transform our community and in the process be transformed. Will these people be called to the White House like Billy Graham? No. But they are using their gifts to build up the kingdom of God. And the reality is, they are making a bigger difference than they will ever know.
To illustrate that point, look at an iceberg. Icebergs tend to be rather large, but most of their size is hidden. The work of God is like an iceberg. The bulk of what he is doing is invisible to us. We would like to see dramatic, visible results. It is easy to become discouraged when we don’t see people flocking into the church, we don’t see exciting evidence of God’s power in our services. Or you may be inviting someone to attend and getting no response. But, the fact is, we have no idea what God may be doing among us. The most important works of God are completely invisible to us. Which simply means that we cannot judge what God is accomplishing by what we can see.
I believe God is most glorified by our faithfulness in small things. God is glorified when we are faithful even though the results of our work are invisible. It means praying when our prayers seem “unfruitful” It means serving when our service seems insignificant. It means loving when we don’t feel like loving. The greatest test of faithfulness is those long days when we see no clear results of our labor. Or when our labors seem small.
This Sunday I challenged you to get involved. Because God will use your service to change lives. God delights to use everything, no matter how seemingly small or unseen to accomplish his work.
My prayer in 2013 is that everyone who attends Northstar will get involved. And see the sum of many small things done well, turn into greater results than we could have ever imagined.