The Year of the Ratz.
Who would have believed that one of the most prophetic statements of 2012 so far would come from the head of the Roman Catholic Church? I suppose only us people that think that God only speaks through a certain type of prophet. People who have much smaller vision of the heart and grace of God than we should have. As I have blogged before ‘if God can speak through an ass he can speak through me.’ This quote which is from Pope Benedict XVI’s book ‘Faith and the Future’ has really hit home through it’s honesty and insight and I think makes greater impact because of who wrote it. At first read it maybe offers a disheartening view of where the church is at and what it is going to go through, but I see so much hope in these words. Hope that the present and the future are being aligned by God. This is the link to the quote http://lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/benedict-xvi-the-church-will-become-small/. Here are a couple of excerpts;
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”
“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.”
“And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith.”
The church will become small. Not words that writers of church growth manuals and leaders of mega churches would adhere to. So against the flow of our heritage of adding numbers, filling buildings, multiplication, crowds, vision for more etc. and our obsession with numbers. What would two ‘pastors’ talk about when they greet each other if it is not about numbers? Have to revert back to talking about the weather. Small does not feed the ego, make one feel powerful and mighty in God, create a bunch of spectators to hear our latest thoughts. Small is small. It is surely a sign of weakness, failure, no hope. Yet something inside me cries out ‘small is beautiful.’
The Day of Small Things
Zechariah spoke about not despising the day of small things or small beginnings. In Luke it talks about being faithful in the small things. We are being called back to the small things. In the past there was always a motivation of walking here and being faithful with the small, that was that if we were faithful here God would give us something bigger. I thought like that too as I was leading a small church, that because I was faithful in that leading God would give me big in the future. I now think that is a wrong motivation rooted in and feeding the ego. Last night as I was working I sensed God say to me ‘what if things never got any bigger than they are right now? Would you be content in Me?’ I had to meditate on this for a while because things are pretty small here where I stand at face value. There is my family and I. At times I feel as if it is only me (Elijah I know how you feel). I am involved in no regular relational gatherings. There is no one who wants to meet regularly for coffee or prayer in the area. I feel marginalised and often alone in the journey. What if this was as big as it got for me? Am I really finding my contentment in Him alone? How do I cope when the ego is not being fed? These words were a great challenge as I thought about them. What is my heart? Am I just doing this dutifully believing that one day many doors will open again and conferences will happen where I get invited to share and local gatherings will take place where my story can be told? Maybe God only wants my children to hear my story and that is all. My work colleagues and that is it. Being faithful in the small is not always longing for the bigger, it is finding hope in the now. Content where I am standing at this present moment.
Small is the New Big
Then after pondering that thought I heard the voice again ‘nothing is ever as small as you think it is. This small is so much bigger than anything that has ever gone before it.’ I am realising more every day that God is up to something bigger than me. The difference is no man will be able to take the credit or the glory or the centre stage for what is happening, what is about to happen. I am alone and yet have never felt so connected, so plugged in. Not a part of anything but a part of something amazing. Finding friends and relationship in many places, not out of ambition to build but through accidentally finding each other. Dots being joined, a picture emerging, hope for the lost, small particles filled with huge potential, wildfire uncontrolled. A world wide web that goes beyond the computer network. One that does not need an apostolic leader to head it up and make one bigger network of churches and cell groups, please God let us never go there again! One that does not need ministry names and headquarters and subscriptions to join. This is completely Wind blown. It takes no effort to be a part of this, many times I just watch and marvel at what God is doing. If you cannot join it by signing anything or being a part of something, we cannot leave it either. We are joined in Him. As I said recently on Facebook, I am part of your ‘church’ whether you like it or not, just because I do not go where you go it does not mean I cease to be part of the ekklesia in this region. The only way to leave is to leave Him (unless you believe in once saved always saved but that is someone else’s debate). But that is getting astray a bit. What I see more and more is that small is indeed beautiful. I love the small. Because I know in Him that the small I am a part of is indeed bigger than I would ever realise.