don’t be small

don't be small cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

(click on the image to check out this cartoon as a fine art print)

There are enough words on the cartoon itself. But I see this all the time. Including in my own life. In order to belong, in order to be appreciated, in order to not be rejected, we will be and play small.

There are so many powers alive today who’s sole purpose is to dehumanize us, restrict us, confine us, and even kill us. There are so many powers alive today that would like us to live as though we’re buried alive.

Don’t be made small by any power, any institution, or any relationship.

Live large!

Consider joining The Lasting Supper where we exercise living large.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Carol

    David, this is not pop psycholgy or New Age fluff. It is a fundamental teaching in the wisdom Traditions of all the Great Religions:

    The human race in the course of time has taken the liberty of softening and softening Christianity until at last we have contrived to make it exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament… –Soren Kierkegaard

    “My good children, a theologian is one who converses with God and not one who studies theology.” – Elder Ephraim of Katounakia

    The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. –Soren Kierkegaard

    “The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever”
    –Soren Kierkegaard

    “To everyone is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell.”
    – Richard Feynman

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool. ~Richard Feynman

    “Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are. — Anne Lamott

    Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity. ~ M. Scott Peck

    Negative feelings are in you, not in reality.
    So stop trying to change reality. That’s crazy!
    Stop trying to change the other person.
    We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else. We don’t have to change anything. Negative feelings are in you. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy.
    There is no event, condition, situation, or person. Nobody told you this; they told you the opposite. That’s why you’re in the mess that you’re in right now. That is why you’re asleep. They never told you this. But it’s self-evident. — Anthony De Mello

    When you live in reaction, you give your power away. Then you get to experience what you gave your power to. ~N. Smith

    It is senseless to blame others or your environment for your miseries. Change begins from the moment you muster the courage to act. When you change, the environment will change. The power to change the world is found nowhere but within our own life. –Daisaku Ikeda

    We all have the power to give love. And if we do so, we change the kind of person we are, and we change the kind of world we live in. – Rabbi Harold Kushner, also author

  • http://sspjut.com Shawn Spjut

    David; Simply and brilliantly said. The very powers that seek to limit God, are the very ones trying to limit and kill us. Every time we’ve allowed others to define who we are, and how we are to express ourselves, we’ve also allowed them to define God, to us, in their image, after their likeness. I’ll take the freedom to be me, expressing Them the way They created me to, any day – and in turn, honor your freedom to do the same.

  • Caryn_LeMur

    So very true! I see this so often among the LGBT believers that walk with Christ. The LGBT wishes to serve our Lord Jesus, but descends into a church institution in order to ‘serve’ Jesus… and then is crushed under a heavy burden of selective-Law enforcement. Finally, by shear force of will, they have conformed to the church image of ‘being right with God’, and have no strength left to serve Jesus. They have become the ‘trophy’ convert of the disciples of Moses (even though none of those disciples keep the Law), they are then given a place of honor on the wall – a lifeless replica of a once-living creature, now mounted to prove the power of the hunter.

    “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” Not a ‘freedom to indulge in the sinful nature’, but a ‘freedom to serve one another in love.’

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    The Holy Spirit isn’t interested in lone rangers.

    He gathers us together. To hear His Word, receive His sacraments, and to build up one another and comfort one another.

    We shouldn’t have to be stuck in a church that puts all the focus on us. But there are good churches out there where Christ and what He has done remains at the center.

  • Caryn_LeMur

    Old Adam: When the Holy Spirit commissioned Barnabas and Saul in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit created church planters… and they were very much ‘lone rangers’. All the church of Antioch did was pray and fast for them, and then send them on their way. Indeed, in time, the teacher named Saul became called Paul the Apostle, all during this ‘lone ranger’ time.

    If the church of Antioch had refused to hear the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas still were obligated by that Holy Spirit to follow ‘the heavenly vision’.

    Jesus said, ‘Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst’. Two people make a powerful ‘lone ranger’. I may be concerned about a 1 person Lone Ranger…. but 2 is plenty according to Jesus.

    The Holy Spirit still needs church planters – men and women willing to risk their lives for Christ – who will take the gospel to any location and any people-group that the local ‘Church of Antioch’ does not, will not, or cannot reach. We should not let our fears stop their faith and courage.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • http://sspjut.com Shawn Spjut

    Lets face it folks, Jesus was a ‘Lone Ranger’. He defied the religious system, re-interpreted scripture, hung out with the ‘unclean’, forgave those caught in adultery, touched a woman who had an eighteen year menstrual period, invited tax collectors into covenant friendships, anointed twelve high school drop outs to oversee a new and emerging church, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, walked on water, cast out demons, walked around for forty days and nights with a huge hole in His side without bleeding out, walked through walls, cleaned out hell, and oh yeah, turned you and I into new and interesting alien life forms. All outside of the ‘Church’. The reality is, Church, like Sunday, was made for man; man was not made for Church. Most Lone Rangers take their fellowship out into the real world, among real people – sounds like Jesus to me.

  • Gary

    “The Holy Spirit isn’t interested in lone rangers.

    He gathers us together. To hear His Word, receive His sacraments, and to build up one another and comfort one another.” – the Old Adam (a.k.a. Steve)

    Steve, I don’t know why I ask this because you have flatly refused to respond in the past to nearly every attempt by anyone to engage you following one of your unsubstantiated declarative statements…but still I will throw it out for rhetorical purposes.

    How do you know?

    Why are you so sure the Spirit of God has no interest in meeting the needs of individuals outside of the church? We have “The Word” in Jesus already…no need to go to church to find Him. Why do you keep referring to “His sacraments” as if in church is the only way…or even the best way to receive them? And as for building one another up and comforting one another…that purpose is much better served outside of the corruption of organized religion in my opinion.

  • http://sspjut.com Shawn Spjut

    Gary, I couldn’t agree with you more. But maybe its not a case of ‘either or’ but of both. I was part of a leadership within organized religion for a long time, and now have chosen a different way. But there was merit in the organization, just as their is merit in life outside of it. Maybe what needs to happen is that the ‘church’ needs to come back to it original purpose; friends who gather from house to house, share what the Lord is doing in their lives; having fellowship, and encouraging each other along the way; rather that the ‘Club Church’ persona so many of today’s organization have adapted. Its very hard to reach the hurting, the overlooked, and the disenfranchised behind walls. It also very difficult to see all the amazing things God is doing so many other venues, as well. Like you, I find life outside the walls, but there are some, for a time, who might benefit otherwise.

  • Gary

    Yeah Shawn I agree with you it is not “either or” as far as The Spirit is concerned. But it seems to only be the church crowd claiming such a conflict exists. I personally believe much of the modern church has lost the focus of Christ, but would not declare that there is no such thing as a church that is healthy. I believe the Spirit seeks to work wherever believers are, congregated together; in small non-formal gatherings, or even one on one. It seems to be organized religion that attempts to define and restrict the Spirit.

  • Wade

    Being too big to fit in someone else’s box is one of my favourite ways of disrupting expectations. But I usually do it in non-threatening ways because I don’t enjoy conflict. This is one reason I have a Necomimi. :-)

    Most people are curious and excited when I do that. The church, unfortunately, less so. Especially when it comes to things religious or spiritual.

  • http://www.welcometoleftfield.blogspotcom jonathan pelton

    I think there is wisdom in what you’ve said Shawn. I feel that so much of what I see here is a (metaphorically) violent reaction to a specific manifestation of the church. What you have refered to as “club churches.” I’m enmeshed in the club church culture, and I hate the idea of it. I hate the idea of people coming and putting their butts in a seat week after week, acting like a bobblehead in service, but not ever letting the message of Christ penetrate their lives. I hate the idea of people using the church as a construct of American culture, as a means of supporting American culture, and as a means of making themselves feel like they are clean, normal and good, when they are not. I hate it; I hate it; I hate it; and so I’m staying in that culture to try to be an agent of change within that culture. I’m not trying to change the theology because I don’t think that the theology is the problem; in fact I think a proper orthodox theology, understood correctly and taken deeply to heart is a vital part of the solution.

    That said, I can easily explain to you why the church is a necessary part of the believer’s life from Scripture, and even more easily if you are Trinitarian; if you don’t put much stock in these, however, the argument becomes more difficult and much more subjective. I would simply say, though, that accepting the church is different from accepting the traditional ecclesial institutions.

    Also, I don’t know of any Lone Ranger Christians in the Bible. Jesus had the 12, plus a consistent group of friends, including Mary, Martha and Lazarus, along with a larger following. Paul, Barnabas and the other missionaries of the NT were all connected into a network of churches with whom they kept up as constant a stream of communication as the technology of their day allowed. They were officially commissioned by the church of Antioch and were generally held to be authorities throughout the 1st century church. One could argue that some of the OT prophets were Lone Ranger Jews, but that was mostly out of necessity, like Elijah (Elisha? I always get them confused) when he cried out to God that he was the only faithful follower left. I don’t know of anytime in Scripture when God called an individual to permanently become a hermit.

  • Carol

    Jonathan, what you say makes sense.
    The Church is bigger than any ecclesiastical hierarchy and, yes, the Church is bigger than any local church.

    An arguement could be made that people who have left their local parish/congregation, but are still following Jesus as faithfully as their own strenghts, weaknesses and life’s circumstance permit have not left “the Church” at all.

    The Church includes not only the Pilgrim Church/Church Militant on earth, but also the transcendent Church Triumphant. St. Therese of Lisieux is my special prayer partner in the Church Triumphant, not only because she and St. Francis of Assisi may be the only Saints who were fully transformed/sanctified by the time of their passing over into the fullness of Eternity, but because she promised before her death to “spend [her] Heaven doing good on earth.”

    Protestants have misunderstood the Catholic teaching on the Saints. We are encouraged to venerate, not worship them and to pray WITH them, not TO them. Of course, not all Catholics are as in touch with their Tradition as they should be:

    “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. …. Without doubt those who willfully try to drive God from their heart and to avoid all questions about religion, not following the biddings of their conscience, are not free from blame. But believers themselves often share some responsibility for this situation. For atheism, taken as a whole, is not present in the mind of man from the start (Atheismus, integre consideratus, non est quid originarium). It springs from various causes, among which must be included a critical reaction against religions and, in some places, against the Christian religion in particular. Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.”–Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 19

  • http://sspjut.com Shawn Spjut

    Jonathan; I am very much of a “Trinitarian”, and as one, my conviction is that ‘Church’, like relationship, was meant to be a living, evolving life form (people) – a life form meant to demonstrate to those who have not yet met Jesus in a personal, life transforming way, what being in a covenantal relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can and does look like. Our relationship with ‘God’ is to be relational – not theological. Jesus came to reveal the Father through relationships, through community, through covenant: not through rules, laws, or tradition.

    Does the structure of ‘church’ have a place? Maybe. If it is willing to grow, change, evolve, and see itself as a gentle mentor – guiding people in how to walk in an intimate friendship with Them, and each other. If it is willing to let go of its traditional beliefs and implied theocracy, that it is the ‘way, the truth, and the light’ to God, rather than Jesus – rather than Holy Spirit who is the One Father sent to lead us into all truth.

    I am not ‘anti’ church (the Church being the whole body of Christ); but I am anti-institutional; anything that places itself above, or between, the heart and desire of God and His children; creations made in Their likeness, after Their image, in community, friendship, and love. I am against anything that creates a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality: excluding those we’ve been taught are ‘outside’ rather than ‘inside’. Jesus went ‘outside’ and loved, fellowshipped, and befriended those considered by the religious leaders and structural church, to be ‘unclean’, and therefore not ‘one of them’. And he was so bold as to inform the religious leaders of his day, and ours, that that – not the Synagogue, or structure, or religious institution, was ‘the kingdom of God’.

    Not everyone is comfortable walking outside the walls of structure. Without the restraints of religion and doctrine, it can be a frightening experience; until you realize that the relationship we have with Them is, was, and will always be, empowered by Them – in friendship – in love – in community – in life. When Jesus was raised from the dead, our destination was assured. All we are doing now, is exploring all the undiscovered possibilities of what that looks like for ourselves, and each other.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Jonathan: As I understand the New Testament, those that believe are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses in heaven, and we are part of the Body of Christ, whether we like it or not. In that sense, and borrowing from Vineyard terminology, there is therefore the enormous ‘Kingdom of God’. Within the huge Kingdom of God, there is also a small collection of church institutions. So, in that sense, no believer is alone, ever.

    I think we are discussing ‘Seekers’, ‘Lone Rangers’, and ‘hermits’. So, I think we need to look at Paul the Apostle (twice) and Anna the prophetess.

    I think it is important that we give room for ‘Seekers’ that go outside of the church institution. This was a path that Saul the new believer took in Gal Chapter 1 – “[after my conversion] my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.” Saul then claims that God revealed the gospel message to him during that time, “the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

    Paul is our brother in Christ. Therefore, it is still ok for seekers to go well outside the church institutions. If God honored Saul – later called Paul the Apostle – why would God not honor other Christians seeking Him outside the institutional church in the modern version of an ‘arabia’? Further, Paul never writes a word condemning his early ‘seeker’ status – so, the door is open wide here.

    A ‘Lone Ranger’ lives to further the Kingdom – and, by analogy, the Lone Ranger is armed and willing to use his/her weapons. In Galatians Chapter 2, we meet Paul the Lone Ranger, vocally and publicly taking a stand against Peter the senior apostle – a pillar of the church hierarchy and appointed by Jesus! Yet, Paul gives us an insight into the mind of a Lone Ranger, for Paul states concerning all the Pillars of the Church, “whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism.”

    I offer that we need our Lone Rangers that will take stands within their local ‘church of Antioch’ and ensure that works, and separation from the ‘gentile believers’, are not promoted – for these two items create a false gospel message. So, I conclude that the door is open for a Lone Ranger that defends the Body of Christ within the context of a local denomination and/or congregation.

    A ‘hermit’ is someone that withdraws from ‘life in the fast lane’, and lives a time of contemplation, prayer, and serves God in prayer and fasting. We should take care to not overlook Luke Chapter 2, and see Anna, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” God honored Anna’s form of being a hermit – which may have lasted more than 60 years – and her name is forever recorded in Luke Chapter 2. There is not a hint of rebuke about her journey as a hermit.

    Now, we are the living temple of God. The temple of Jerusalem was a shadow of the reality found in the Body of Christ. I offer we should take great care in speaking against the modern hermits that withdraw in order to serve God in prayer and fasting, within the temple of their own bodies, and in their world of ‘praying in secret, so that God will reward them openly’. So long as they have even a small ‘window of opportunity’ wherein they interact with someone of the Body of Christ, they may be a powerful tool in the hands of the Father.

    We need to see these exceptions to the rule of thumb. Paul the Apostle was honored by God as a ‘Seeker’; Paul the Apostle never apologized for being a ‘Lone Ranger’ against Peter the Pillar; Anna is never spoken against in the New Testament.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • http://www.welcometoleftfield.blogspotcom jonathan pelton

    Caryn,
    Your definition of Seeker is spot on; Paul left, for a time, to figure himself and his new beliefs out; he needed to get away, and I see that that is a legitimate need sometimes in the life of the believer. I wasn’t thinking about that time in Paul’s life when I posted my above response.
    Your definition of a Lone Ranger is good; we need such people in the Kingdom of God, although I’d prefer to label that as a prophet. They didn’t reject communion with the people of God, they were simply willing to do and say unpopular things that needed to be done and said. Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King Jr. would both be other good examples, neither of whom rejected the church (just as Paul was not rejecting the church when he stood up against Peter), but were rejected by the ecclesial institutions of their day. Even in their rejection, however, they still found a place in vital community and communion with other believers.
    Your definition of a hermit, as one who withdraws from “life in the fast lane” is also a legitimate Christian path to walk; though I’d prefer to label it monk (monkess, nun, some other gender neutral term that I can’t think of). To me, a hermit is someone who withdraws from everything, including other people, permanently. A monk (monkess, nun etc.) is one who finds value in the contemplative life, who rejects the need for worldly business and affairs, but is still drawn into communion with others who follow God’s heart. Anna was one such, she spent her time at the temple, with other people, at the perigon of the insitute of Jewish religion, communing with God.

    Carol,
    Speaking as a Protestant, I don’t have a problem with asking the saints to pray for us. As a theologian, I don’t agree with the logic of the doctrine, but don’t see it as at all dangerous or something to spend time arguing about. As an amateur anthropologist, I see this twisted in folk theology into something very close to idolatry. As a historian, I bemoan protestants’ abandonement of history, our forgetting those who have gone before, and our individualistic egos that drive us to say “I can do this on my own, with no help from anyone else, and I don’t care what anyone else has done!” I think we can learn a lot of good lessons by remembering the saints.

    Shawn,
    I’m fine with what you said, given two caveats. 1) We recognize that the institutes themselves are not evil, but idolizing the institute is. 2) We recognize that walking outside of the church is not a superior path to walking inside the church; just as walking inside is not superior to walking outside.


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