“get ready, God is preparing you for something really, really small” – shane claiborne
In a moment of indiscretion I did something horrible in college. I applied to a large university. Now I really say that as a joke, because in actuality I don’t have anything against this particular institution. As a matter of fact I rather like it a lot as well as it’s cross state rival. However, I applied and was accepted to this institution and I thus I began the gauntlet of requirements being part of the school necessitated. Park in this are, then walk/run all the way across campus to get the TB test, then head over to a different corner of campus to file the change of address form, after that make sure to go see a counselor over at a different part of campus, then you can go back to your first area to actually register, etc. etc. And there was this sense that if I were to make one misstep in this horrible process filled with red tape that I was unworthy to be part of the institution. And of course no one was going to help in any way. Often times employees would refuse to give any clearer directions than go to the such and such building, which is great if you know which building that is and/or where it’s at, no help at all otherwise. So I did everything. I did it all right, I filled out my change of address forms and moved just down the road from the school.
Then one day I received a notice that my classes had been dropped. I go to investigate and find that despite me doing everything right, they had sent my bill to the wrong address, and since it had not been paid my classes had been dropped. Now the classes were full and I could not get any of the classes I needed. This was all due to their mistake, they were even able to find the change of address form I had filled out and submitted.
At this point I decided I did not like being treated like a number rather than a person, so I transferred to another smaller school where people were helpful and you felt like a person.
Now I don’t think institution number one is evil or anything like that, I simply believe it’s large. And when things get too large people become smaller and smaller, worth less and less. There are great advantages to being large, but there are also drawbacks.
I think by and large in the U.S. we tend to think that bigger is better, and we fail to see the impact that small things can have. But over and again in the scriptures Jesus seems to refer to the Kingdom of God in terms of small or hidden things, bursting forth and changing everything else (mustard seed, etc). When we look at Jesus we see that he did draw large crowds, but it also seems like whenever the crowds really start to grow he begins to teach things that will thin them out (John 6).
I don’t deny that God wants to do big things in our world. The mustard seed does grow and spread, the disciples were told they would preach in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. However, I think that God might be even more concerned with the small things, that’s where the big things begin. At the same time, a mustard tree only grows so large, then it reproduces. While the disciples were told that they would do big things, those big things were to happen through the making of other disciples.
Again, don’t think I’m demonizing big. There are advantages that come with being big, I’m well aware of it. However, often the good that comes with being big comes at the cost of our humanity, so it’s important that we find ways to grow smaller while/if we grow larger. Very often we forget that often times the big things that happen take place because of a few very dedicated people. Jesus’ core was 12, um . . . make that 11 disciples and a few women. And yet they completely changed the world as we know it. I think Mother Theresa said it best, that we can do no great things, only small things with great love. But that small things with great love can change the world.