September 20, 2012

A small role

Much of the time I feel insignificant in the kingdom of God, useless and having no impact on anyone or anything. Much of the time this does not bother me. It’s my pride that wants importance and visibility — and the Holy Spirit warns against feeding my pride. Besides, just as dealing with success is as big a challenge as dealing with failure, being a ‘success’ in God’s work is much more difficult than being ‘ordinary,’ even insignificant.
On days when I wish I was more effective or a ‘brighter bulb in the box’ God gives me verses like these to think about…

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26–29)

I know that God can use smart and powerful people. He can also use those born in a palace just as He uses those born in lesser circumstances. Sometimes He raises up those who are respected and beloved. Yet I’ve noticed that when He does pick wise and talented people, these have a greater measure of humility than I do. They have learned not to boast in themselves, but to boast in the Lord.

Today’s devotional reading points to those beautiful mosaics made of small pieces of stone, glass, or other materials. The artist polishes and arranges those little pieces into grand and beautiful pictures. Each individual part of the picture may be a small and worthless, only a piece of glass or marble or a shell, yet when each is in its place, together they become a masterpiece. 

The kingdom of God is like that. God selects and saves the small and worthless pieces of stone and brass, perhaps the stuff that is walked on or tossed in the trash, unnoticed and considered useless. It is of these that He is making His great masterpiece, a glorious creation that will one day astonish the world.

Besides looking at the value of individual pieces, this puts my focus on that entire picture. The kingdom of God is not about individuals, at least not about the individual sinners that are part of it. It is about Jesus Christ, in whom we are united and of whom we are to resemble. He is the masterpiece. We are only small reflections of His greater glory.

Jesus, I am so glad that the importance of Your kingdom does not depend on the wisdom or skills of each person who is part of it. If revealing the glory of God depended only on me, few would ever see more than a tiny glimpse, if that. I’m also glad that You are able to put together a ‘motley crew’ such as we are and transform us into Your glorious people. Someday You will present us to Yourself “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing” for we will be “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). It is that hope and promise that helps me be content in my very small place in Your great masterpiece.  

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