In my Christian circles I am always amazed at some of the things that are said. Whether it be Sunday mornings, para-church meetings, and sideline conversations there is a reoccurring request or expectation that concerns me.
"We are praying for a big move of God." Have you heard this before? "We're expecting God to do big things." "God has something big in store." "God let us be apart of the big things you are doing."
I think this may be part of the problem in the modern Christian mind. This idea that we are to always be seeking something big.
In seeking God for big things, we miss what he is doing about us, and we lose site that what we consider small, is quite large. I think we need to redefine 'big'.
What are the big things people are expecting from God? Many people are seeking revival where mass amounts of people make professions of faith or rededicate all at once. People that are going on so called "mission trips" are wanting to see something powerful when they arrive. People expect God to fix their major situation, whether as an individual, community or nation.
Why wouldn't we expect big things? Simply, American Christianity is about big things. Big buildings, popular speakers with big influence. It's about you having a big impact and changing the world.
But in seeking the big, I think we miss Jesus Christ, I would argue that seeking the big is actually us hoping to quench our own doubt, feed our ego, or give us a aggrandized story to tell.
God moves in what we call small. We have categorized His miraculous into the minuscule. We have culturalized our expectations of God, and missed Him in the process.
You might be angry with me about this statement, but I dislike youth mission trips. I want to argue that they proliferate this "big" idea and actually cause youth to miss daily Christianity. I am not saying that some good things don't come out of it, but I am saying I think there is something better.
A church plans a youth mission trip to Asia. The plan is to witness on the street, help build a house, and bring clothing to a people group. Each kid has to raise funds or in almost all cases, get their parents to pay for it. Part of the trip includes site seeing, which is not a bad idea if you're going to go all that way. There is lots of prayer time prior to departure. Most of that will include praying for a 'big move of God.' The trip date comes along. It takes 3 of the seven days just to get to your destination, get settled and return. You spend two and half of the days doing 'ministry'. This includes trying to get teenagers up and moving, fed, comfortable, and in line. This leaves maybe 10 hours of 'ministry'. Then there is the day and a half of tourism. The youth return and share on Sunday morning with the congregation the amazing things that they felt, and if they find themselves lucky, they'll talk about how many people were 'saved'. People they will never see, talk to, or pursue again.
Sunday is over and the kids are back in school. Next to them at their lunch table are 5 kids that do not understand the Gospel, but the Gospel is not for lunch room chatter, let alone the kids from church have little understanding of orthodoxy. Across from the school is the apartment complex where the families are all from Bosnia, but there is no 'ministry' done there. The conversations return to 'small talk'. The pictures shared with friends are of them and the other teenagers in front of a giant Buddha. Their teacher, the agnostic, continues to speak of science void of a Creator and they have no idea how to digest the data. The old lady next door pulls out her garbage and goes back inside with little to no notice. They return to church Wednesday night for another 'get in touch' with God session. Theological things seem to far over their head to dive into so they avoid them. They return to their job at the store and go about business as usual. The mission trip is over, and now are back to the routine and regular life with no understanding of how to bring their faith into the everyday.
Is God not concerned with the everyday? Is He not doing a new thing in our daily lives? Is Christian action only about going somewhere different or foreign for a week? Did "go into all the world" just mean somewhere other than where I am?
The last three generations have made what we perceive to be the 'BIG' actions of God into what is most important and to be sought, and forsaken the actions of God in the everyday. We call these small. The modern Christian does not look at everything in life from his Christian worldview. He delegates God to only the 'big'.
How do we fix this? What if we go to scripture and seek what our definition of 'big ' should be.
Paul writes to the Ephesians, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
The good works for us to participate in were prepared, beforehand. God has laid out the fruits of our lives in advance. He has decided what is 'big' in our lives. He is seeking our participation in what he has planned for us. Why should we ask for anything more than this?
"Experiencing God" was written by Henry Blackaby many years ago, but I think it hits on a very orthodox way of us seeking to be a part of God's work.
Instead of us demanding God show us something big, do something big, we should simply request to be a part of what He is doing and what He has prepared for us to do.
This is not a sit and wait and let's see what happens. We should run with the visions God gives us, but be cautious about the expectations we set for God, unless we want to make Him laugh.
There is GIGANGTIC fruit from the person that gives $20.00 every month continously year after year for a child in World Vision. This is BIG as most people never stay committed to anything.
There is amazing GREATNESS in the person that stops and gives a homeless man $5.00 and does not worry about what he is going to spend it on and takes time to learn his name and hear his story.
It is HUGE when you stop what you are doing and just listen to what is troubling your spouse.
It is GRAND when you week after week teach young people in a Bible study.
It is MASSIVE when you are known at work as the dependable person.
Remaining true to your spouse all the days of your life is MONUMENTAL.
These are fruits of the Spirit. These are BIG things.
So we are busy planning and inviting God to do BIG revivals, yet we cannot get anyone in our church to teach others. We want to go somewhere foreign and see a bunch of people saved when there is no one there to disciple them. Would God have us invite Him into our chaos and egotistical expectations?
Modern Christianity has emphasized 'size'. We must instead seek God's plan for us in the everyday and pray he reveals to us what He is doing. And then, no matter how small we perceive it, remain dedicated to the tasks he hs assigned us.
You have been put into the world, your "all of the world' is where you are now. If we could just be successful with two growing disciples where we are now, the world would be changed.
So the next time you consider sending your kid on a mission trip to a far away place, be sure to ask them, and yourself, are we participating in what God has planned for us today? Are we loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, and self disciplined in our current circles? Are we developing relationships where we are now and sharing truth? Are we growing and developing disciples here?
If the answers no for you or your child, don't get on the plane.