One Size Fits All
Today, I visited a friend’s church where he started a 14 week class he wrote as a “thoughtful, reasoned, Christian response to Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The Greatest Show On Earth.” (If you are interested, it is held at The Palace Theatre, 810 South Austin Avenue, just off the square in Georgetown, Texas. It is being hosted by Main Street Baptist Church and runs from 9:45am to 10:40am. The next session is May 15. For info, contact John, the teacher, at email@example.com.)
Simultaneously, in the car, I’m listening to Donald Miller read his bestseller, Blue Like Jazz. I’m probably the last person in American Christendom to read it—even my dad has read it before I’ve gotten to it. (I’ll likely post on it once I’ve finished it.)
Talk about engaging both halves of your brain! As I reflected on the things I’ve heard and learned today, I had to laugh.Each meets a need in the Body of Christ and in the world at large. Each is passionate about meeting that need and making sure as many people as possible benefit from what they share. All this is right and good.
What is funny to me, though is that not everyone has the particular need that they are reaching out to meet. In other words, there are those in John’s class who just don’t get all the fuss over Miller’s book, and conversely, many who love Miller’s book would find John’s series not relevant to their faith.
At this point, I want to generalize beyond anything that John or Don have said to a larger principle. One of the outworkings of our finite selves is that we have room for limited passions. We simply can’t be equally passionate to meet all needs in this planet. However, for the ones about which we burn with fiery conviction, we tend to hold it up as THE most important issue facing humanity today, and anyone who suggests otherwise just doesn’t get it, and is, at worst, a heretic. (Neither John or Don go anywhere near here, so they are a launching pad for my thoughts due to their convergence in the events of my day, not objects of criticism.)
God’s creation is so vast, even within humanity, that there is hardly a limit to the number of issues one can care about. In other words, there’s plenty of work for all of us. He is the only one big enough to care appropriately deeply about all of it. Therefore, we need to be humble in our passionate defense of our causes.
Even in the early church, this became a problem. In Acts, it tells about the growing burden on the apostles as the church grew. Not only were they preaching people into the kingdom, they were running their version of the soup kitchen, collecting offerings, and, and, and… Finally, they realized something had to give, and delegated some of the ministries to others. Moses did the same thing during the Exodus and subsequent wanderings through the desert. He had to delegate the hearing of disputes by creating a system of judges and appellates to handle the workload.
In any case of delegation, one of the challenges is competing for resources, so we campaign for the cause or department for which we are about and are responsible, and we try to recruit folks to join our team to help meet the need. However, it is easy to get myopic so that the only needs we see are the ones with which we are intimately involved. We can become like baby birds, squawking for food as mama approaches with the worm. This shortsightedness can be an extension for the intrinsic sin nature we have that cares first and foremost about one thing, us. The challenge we all face is to keep the overall health of the organism (church, department, college, university, state, nation, world) in view and rightly recognize our cause’s place in that organism. In the church, we have the advantage of the indwelling Holy Spirit who sees the end from the beginning and helps us keep perspective, if we will listen to Him.
Thus, in the example of John’s class and Don’s book, their information and perspectives are not for everyone at all times in all situations. Without forgetting that, we need to recognize that what they bring to the table is important, useful, and worthy of support. We need to see the value of ministry and tasks for which we may not have the same level of passion. In any of our endeavours, we need to realize that one size does not fit all.
It is striking then, that there are two things that meets everyone’s need, and they are both provided by the One who again, is passionate appropriately about all needs: Christ and His Word.