The Ministry of Small Things

Earworms
Never Forgotten Heroes by Rhapsody of Fire
Love them Like Jesus by Casting Crowns
Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns

Before I forget, I forgot to add the links to Pastor Vince’s sermon last May 6. Here’s the [link]. (in case you see this later on and the featured transcription changes, just click on the May 6 link)
Today’s sermon was given by Pastor Doug Nichols, an American missionary who’s gone around the world (including Africa and South East Asia) to help the poor in the Lord’s name. Pastor Doug was raised in poverty himself in southern California; in fact he was illiterate into his youth and only learned how to read and write later on in life; this was hampered by a learning disability. Through his background, the Lord developed a heart for the poor in him, and today’s message had a very strong challenge to love the way Romans 12:9-11 describes it; with Pastor Doug’s suggestion of being involved in helping the poor.

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…

Pastor Doug broke this down into six characteristics of sincere love, a love of action, the worship of God lived out.
1. Sincere love includes hatred—the hatred of evil. It is abhorrent, and that is why many times we don’t even want to talk about it. But this should not mean that we tolerate it; hatred of evil is positively expressed in promoting good. As such, hating murder is one thing, but promoting life is another, and it is to that standard that we are called.
2. “Clinging to what is good” is the flip side of the first characteristic. It is an explicit call to being an example of love through deeds, it is not merely a sense of cynical and distant neutrality but an active passion.
3. “…devoted to one another in brotherly love…” This is pretty clear, and while I think CCF does this quite well through the dgroup system, I think we all tend to be quite self-absorbed and sometimes we may neglect the needs of the other. Helping one another is an important part of our faith; even if we all live comfortably now and prefer to make our own way, this kind of interaction was very common in the early church. Nowadays it seems to be seen as an inconvenient thing.
4. “…give preference to one another in honor…” I spoke a little about this in my previous entry about anonymity[link]. I we think of our brethren as higher than ourselves, then it is all the more simpler to treat others well. Because of this, we have to do away with pride (which is the cause of a lot of our sins to begin with).
5. “…not lagging behind in diligence…” I have to admit. If there’s one sin that’s common among the middle-to-upper classes in the Philippines (and elsewhere, perhaps), it is laziness. We become lazy in our work, and above all, lazy in our faith. We do not pursue the Lord as if we’re running a race, we loaf and lounge around under a tree, thinking that the tree will last forever. We have to keep in mind that this world does not last forever, we are only passing through. I myself am guilty of this. Just look at the large amount of Flatliner entries I have.
6. “…fervent in spirit…” The church of Laodicea was castigated in the book of Revelation for being lukewarm; the Lord says he would rather we be hot or cold. As such, when we serve it should not merely be a thing of preference, but passion. This also strikes true and deep into my heart, as I’m a guy who often sees the need of others as a very inconvenient thing. But seriously, if we don’t do even the little things, how can we expect people to think we, Christians, professors of God’s love, are genuine?

And this brings me to the ministry of little things. Many of us who care commit our lives to doing great things for the Lord. This is admirable and praiseworthy indeed, but it should always be tempered with the humbling realization that if the Lord saw that the washing of another’s feet was not beneath Him, why should we think that there are some things we would never ever be willing to do, even for the sake of Christ?

To be brutally frank, I often used to think that a lot of CCF’s members are aloof when it comes to the suffering of others. They see another with a flat tire and say “Oh, too bad.” and walk away. But thankfully, the Lord gave me an object lesson in this just as I left CCF.

See, I’d discovered that my tire was flat, thanks to Mr. Jimmy Bernardo. He was walking past my car as I entered the underground parking lot, and he told grandma as she disembarked that our tire was flat. We thanked him and parked.

After the service, I decided to bring the car out of the parking lot and change the tire on the side of the road. This wasn’t too hard, I was able to do it fine on my own. However, I discovered that I had discharged the car’s battery because I left the hazards on. The car just wouldn’t start. Since the Vios is a matic, I couldn’t ask someone to help push-start it. The car was no longer covered by an AAP membership, so I couldn’t call a tow truck (and I don’t even want to deal with the MMDA variety). Thankfully, Pastor Danny saw my plight and stopped by to lend a hand. He offered to jump-start the car, and by the grace of God it worked out fine. As such, I really prayed that the Lord would bless him for his kind deed.

Our God, big as He is, is not merely God of the big. He is the Lord of All, of the Big and the Small. C.S. Lewis acknowledges this in his novel Perelandra.

“In the plan of the Great Dance, plans without number interlock, and each movement becomes in its season the breaking into flower of the whole design to which all else has been directed. Thus each is equally at the center and none are there by being equals, but some by giving place and some by receiving it, the small things by their smallness and the great by their greatness, and all the patterns linked and looped together by the unions of a kneeling with a sceptred love. Blessed be He!” –The Eldila, C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

This is one of the lessons that I’ve been learning consistently in my life: Nothing is an accident, every little detail can and should be taken seriously. We are all capable of doing great things, we are empowered differently in that sense. Some can write excellently, others can dance excellently or speak or paint excellently. But there is one area in which we are all empowered and equipped equally, and that is in the area of little things. As such, each Christian is able to minister in the Lord’s name through small things.

Do not underestimate the impact of a little deed, let alone a deed done in the name of the Lord, empowered by His passion for the human race. He certainly doesn’t.

~ by J. R. R. Flores on May 20, 2007.

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