Life does not feel valuable when standing in a security line at an airport. When you are just one more body in a crowded line being hustled through body scans and luggage inspections, your unique existence doesn’t matter. It’s a humbling reality check. Each one of us is just one of many billions of people on this earth. We are specks. We are dust. We are just one of many.
As I labor for the Texas District of the LCMS, I find myself colliding with a sense of smallness. Out of more than 25 million people in this great state, Texas District worshipers comprise barely a drop in the 50-gallon drum population size of the Lone Star State. On a national scale, adherents who claim The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod as their church add up to just half of the number of weekly viewers of the “Ellen” show. We are small. In the scheme of things, we are insignificant. Let’s be real: Not a whole lot of people listen to us or care that we even exist.
What does this mean?
First, we should be very grateful for the place God has given us in His vast Kingdom. It is an honor to have a small voice, a chance to share His Good News, and a tiny corner from which to shine the light of Jesus to a big world. We need to be careful stewards of this trust.
Second, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. We do need to be diligent; we need to respect the gravity of our mission for the sake of eternity; but we should never think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Dust and specks have no room for arrogance. Ants and fleas would be foolish to argue about who is the greatest, who rules a bigger kingdom, and who wields the most control. Little insects like us need to focus on the one task we’ve been given and do it humbly and gratefully to the best of our ability.
Third, we need to remember that God does the remarkable through little things like mustard seeds, grains of leaven, and little children. Two fish and five loaves fed 5000 people and created the awe of the Almighty in their midst. If we recognize our smallness and if we humble ourselves before God and others, the Savior God who fills heaven and earth may decide to exalt us and let His Good News of grace and truth be seen and heard through us.
Let’s be real about who we are and why we’re here. That may have been one of the reasons Martin Luther started his 95 Theses with these words: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Luther got us started with a reality check. We can’t forget to start each day that way.
By Rev. Michael W. Newman
Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area C