If We Really Want To Change The World… We’ve Got To Think Smaller

 

On Monday, I set off on a one man “missions” trip of sorts to the heart of Africa. After spending a good 48 hours on planes and in airports, I’ve finally settled in to the tasks at hand.

Just as with the work I’ve done in India as part of my dissertation research on human trafficking aftercare practices, it has not taken long for Africa to begin to change and shape me.

If you’ve ever truly traveled or been on a missions trip, you probably know what I mean. Having spent years living over seas, and having traveled to somewhere around 40 countries in my time, it still changes me.

The Kingdom of God is represented by every tribe and tongue. Spending time with those “tribes” and submersing myself in those “tongues” always seems to do something deep in my spirit. It is something I can’t describe in human terms which perhaps that is the best indication of the Spirit of God working in my heart. As Jesus himself described, the Spirit of God is mysterious and comes and goes like the wind– not seen, but keenly felt in ways that one cannot deny.

If you take the time to travel and serve in a cross-cultural context and take time to get to know the needs and struggles of others, you’ll undoubtedly find something awaken or reawaken within you. For me this reawakening is almost always the desire to live like Jesus– to completely pour myself out in love and in service to others.

Oftentimes on trips like these I’m traveling with colleagues from a justice oriented NGO I help run in the states. They end up being trips where downtime is spent “thinking big”, like the time we tried to figure out how we could open up a child care center in the brothels of Mumbai, or how we could facilitate trafficking leaders in Assam to help trafficking victims develop marketable job skills.

I’ve always been one to dream big and do bi; “go big, or go home“, I’ve often said. But recently, I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ve been wrong all this time. This “go big or go home” attitude marginalizes the thousands of small, but crucially important things people do every day that build up the “Kingdom” every bit as much as those few big dreams that actually do come true.

As I sit in the heart of Africa waiving away malaria infested mosquitoes, I am reminded that changing the world might not be a matter of failing to think big enough, but rather a failure to not think small enough.  

You see, sometimes we fail to fulfill God’s calling for us by actually shooting too big. With all this talk of building the “Kingdom” we dream of radical, massive change while we actually forget that instead of a Kingdom created building by building, this Kingdom is built brick by brick.

One small change at a time.

I think my friend Lawrence Garcia said it best the other day:

“Most of us can’t change the world in large scale ways, but we can do “little” things which cumulatively make this pain filled place just a bit brighter, even beautiful; we can say, “thank you,” “please,” “you’re welcome,” and “good morning” and “evening.” We can tip a bit more, hold the door open for a stranger, smile at the cashier and gas station clerk or bartender; we can lend a compliment, ask someone how their day is going, even pay for a meal. These and thousand other little things we can do (and which cost very little) to pick up the oft broken pieces of ourselves and society and mend them into something truly glorious.”

My friends– if we really want to lead radical lives that subversively flip our culture upside down, we’ve got to break the American mindset of going big or going home. We must resist the cultural conditioning that success is equal to how big we think.

Instead, let us do things by way of Kingdom principles– principles that are almost always backwards to what culture tells us.

Let us change the world… by thinking smaller.

We might not all have “big” things we can do, but if I remember correctly, Jesus said something about the last being first– that the little things are those which count the most in the Kingdom of God.

Let us continue to radically change culture.

But let us do it by changing mindsets by thinking smaller.

Let’s think and do smaller, but do it with more fervor and consistency.

Then, and perhaps only then, will we see the Kingdom of the mustard seed sprout high before our very eyes.

"http://www.patheos.com/blog...... as to 3) Jesus accepted our sins on the cross He carried."

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  • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ Robert Martin

    Dude… right there with you… there’s a reason why the Kingdom of God is noted as a mustard seed, a bit of yeast, a lump of salt… all tiny things that, because they start tiny, have a HUGE impact… Salty, Yeasty Seeds in the Light, my friend…

  • Sonya1978

    Amen!

  • David

    Great perspective. That’s really the nature of the Body of Christ. “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” It’s not just the work of one person doing the small things. It’s not even the work of 1 person doing BIG things. But it’s the work of the entire body, which was meant to work together to build the Church. When we’re all doing the small things, the big change happens.

  • CroneEver

    Amen. To all the people who say, “well, all you’re doing is picking up one piece of trash, or giving one dollar, or okay, you’re giving that person a sandwich, but there’s so much misery in the world, and it doesn’t do anything for that”, well, it beats DOING NOTHING. Too much of our society is making perfection the enemy of the good – if you can’t do it right, don’t do it is the message. Mine is, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing something, even poorly. Just so something gets done.

  • stevekimes

    Thanks. Great reminder.

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    God taught me this lesson during my last anxiety attack that lasted three days. Suddenly I saw how the very little things I am able to do –due to chronic pain– are so important to my family, like being a listening ear while my son confides very deep struggles he is going through in his life and in God, even small things like straightening up the kitchen, doing laundry, cleaning out the kitty litter for our 2 rescue cats. When I was in the midst of anxiety I told God that if this “little” stuff is all I am able to do in this life, then I’d be fine with that. Thank you for reminding what God showed me. Past few days I’ve been back to worrying and being hard on myself for not being able to do more. So this was a good read.