Wednesday, October 12, 2011

POV Wednesday – Stories of ‘Least’

I have issues with feelings of inadequacy.

I’d go into all the reasons for that, but I am not here to feel sorry for myself. Not at all! I just wonder if anyone out there feels the same way. If so, I wanted to offer some encouragement.

It’s so easy to see through the world’s eyes since we live right in the middle of it. The truth of the matter is that people keep score. People compete. From sports to the work place, from academics to politics, rank exists. There’s always someone better, there’s always someone worse, and somehow that determines how bad or good we feel about ourselves.

It’s even found in the church.

Problem is, there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ Christian.

Consequently, the same is true for ‘better’ Christians and the ‘best’ Christian. They don’t exist. (Neither do ‘worse’ or ‘worst’ for that matter!)

The only qualifying word that should ever be attached to the title ‘Christian’ is ‘least.’

“Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’” (Matt. 18:2-4)

“But many who are the greatest now will be the least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Matt. 19:30)

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42)

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13)

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but it you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matt. 10:39)

Throughout the Old Testament, God uses men and woman who are considered ‘least’ to do something ‘great’ for Him. One example is Gideon. His story is in Judges 6. Israel has, yet again, turned their backs on God, worshipping idols and doing evil in His sight. Many consequences have ensued making life miserable for all Israelites, including the ones who still love and worship the Lord. Because of His great love and mercy, God calls Gideon to “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (vs14)

Instead of rejoicing that God is sending a rescue to his people, Gideon balks with this excuse: “But Lord, Gideon replied, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (vs. 15)

I think this story says it all because Gideon’s being weak and ‘least’ is exactly the point. The victory comes from the next verse and God’s promise: “I will be with you.”

All things are possible through Christ.

Of course, Gideon had to accept the directive and leave his threshing floor to face the enemy. He had an action to employ. But the trick is to employ that action with the full knowledge that God is with you and God is your strength.

A lovely partnership, don’t you think?

Too often I allow Gideon’s excuse to be my own, but I stay sitting on my threshing floor laboring over something when I should be out fighting and leading. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy, especially by the standards of this world, keep you from heeding God’s call for your life. He’s looking for the ‘least’ because only He is the greatest!

Be strong and courageous, Dry Ground friends!

For a little bit more… to those of you who like finding Truth nuggets in modern stories…

This is one of the reasons I loved this past summer’s blockbuster movie, Thor, so much.

In the beginning, Thor has the opposite problem as me – over confidence. He’s the son of a god, he’s strong and brave, and a skilled and powerful fighter. He believes he has everything it takes to be a great ruler. In fact, he’s confident he will be greater than his father before him. His arrogance, however, leads him to brash actions that disrespect, dishonor and disobey his father. For these actions, he is banished and stripped of his power.

Though stronger than a mere human, Thor finds himself on Earth with far less abilities than he had in his paradise home. This does not deter him altogether, though, as he believes he just needs his hammer to regain his god-like status. He believes he will overcome this slight hiccup in his life through force of his will and his power.

He encounters a rude awakening, however, when he battles and overcomes SHIELD officers who have surrounded and secured his hammer only to find he, like all the other humans, can not budge it. In his own strength, he has failed.

He goes on to learn through the rest of the story that one thing that eludes so many of us… humility. In his weakness, he is shown what true strength is, the strength his father has been trying to teach him. He couldn’t learn it until he was a mere mortal, the ‘least’ of all. When the light bulb does go on for him, though, he acts with a noble self-sacrifice, and in that alone – laying down his life for his friends – is his power restored to him.

Now, he is exponentially powerful as his heart and soul match – maybe even exceed – the strength of his body and mind. What’s more, his relationship to his father is restored, perhaps the most important result of all.

Both sides of the coin, over-confidence and lack thereof, are sins. Why? Because they both leave out all account of God and His power within us. Relying solely on His power and presence balance and focus our outlook. Only then can we ‘accomplish’ for His glory.

(photos by