This morning, I preached on small thinking and how it holds us back from what God is calling us to do. I thought I'd share with you all here.
The scripture readings came from Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Luke 13:10-17
The scripture readings came from Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Luke 13:10-17
Today we move on to a new prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah is different from the other prophets in that he was called young. The other prophets were all second career prophets. Jeremiah tries to use this as a way of getting out of God’s call on his life. He says, “I’m too young! I don’t know how to speak! I’m not qualified.” That last one I think has been used by young and old alike, but this is all small thinking and well, I don’t think God thinks small, he’s more of a Big Thinker don’t you think?
Would you please pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and redeemer. AMEN.
Small thinking… I think we all do it from time to time. It’s the thinking that says we aren’t good enough, we’re too young, we’re too old, we’re too small, we’re too big and so on. This is what Jeremiah was doing. He was making excuses for why he couldn’t answer God’s call. He actually used one of the same reasons Moses did, his poor communication skills. But God wouldn’t have any of it. He touched his lips and gave him the words he needed. He told him that he knew him before he was born. He told him that he had a plan for him before he was born.
Now, as a side note, I don’t think this is proof of predestination. I think it’s more of an assurance that God’s love, grace and support have always been with us and will continue to be… always. It’s more of a divine inspiration in the here and now and that the God who was with you in birth will always be with you and seeks your abundant life.
He thinks BIG for us. He wants big things for us and he calls us to do big things, both as individuals and as a church. Even as a church we can find ourselves held back by our small thinking, we think we are too small to do much. We think we don’t have the money to make a difference. We think small and in our small thinking we forget who we serve, we forget who calls us. We forget what he can do in us, for us and through us. We forget his power, his might.
After God put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth, we see another way in which Jeremiah is different. God told him he was set before nations and over kingdoms, not just Judah or in Israel like the others. He was set before nations and over kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. As I was reflecting on this part of the scripture, I first thought well, this doesn’t really pertain to us today but as I continued to dwell on it I suddenly realized that it does! Just not in the literal sense.
I think God did set us before nations… the nations of hate and judgment, the nations of fear and greed. Just like Jeremiah, we are to pluck them up and break them down, destroy and over throw them. But how are we to that? I imagine that Jeremiah was thinking the same thing! This seems like a really big hard thing to do. This seems like some pretty big thinking! But you know, God, he always has a plan and that is what I think the next part that Jeremiah tells us God told him to do is; to build and to plant. I think this is how we are to take down these nations. We are to plant seeds of hope and love. We are build bridges of compassion.
That’s just what Jesus was doing in our reading from Luke this morning. He was taking down the nation of legalism by showing this woman, this woman who had suffered for some 18 years a little compassion even on the Sabbath. He was teaching that compassion was more important than the laws. He was applying the heart of his teaching and preaching to real life. On the surface he was showing that humans were just as important on the Sabbath as their animals and if they would care for their animals on the Sabbath, they could definitely care for their brothers and sisters.
Now, some of the commentary I read pointed out that there was more to this than just the healing on the Sabbath. It also had to do with it being a woman. It had to do with Jesus calling her forward out of the back where she would have been forced to sit because she was a woman in a deformed condition. She had become religiously marginalized. Such people wouldn’t have been allowed in the temple and the commentary said it was surprising she was even in the synagogue. She would have been in the back, where people were not permitted to participate actively in the acts of worship offered up by the men. They weren’t even supposed to speak! And Jesus, who is sitting up front teaching, notices her and calls her forward and lays his hands on her and she was healed and what did she do? She immediately began to praise God, to glorify God! Remember, she wasn’t allowed to speak but she couldn’t contain her joy! The religious leaders spoke out and condemned Jesus for ‘working’ on the Sabbath but he shamed them a bit. This commentary said it was more about losing control than the actual healing on the Sabbath, control of the culture as he knew it. A caste system that kept him and men in a place above women and others who suffered who couldn’t even ask for relief.
Jesus’ actions this day as they often did broke down the nation of this caste system, the nation of the faithful religious social order and planted seeds of compassion and built bridges of love and those who had been shut out worshipped joyfully together with those of privilege. They didn’t have to hold it in anymore, I bet they couldn’t!
Imagine, what our world could be like if we broke through some of these nations I mentioned before, greed, fear, hate, and judgment, the nation that Jesus himself was breaking through, a nation of social order, whether religious or monetary and then started to plant in them seeds of love and compassion and built bridges of acceptance and friendships.
See I think this is what God is calling us, you and me; this is what he is calling our church, this small single church and the big church in communion with each other to do. How can we refuse? We can’t refuse anymore than Jeremiah could. Often we think to ourselves, we’re too old, we’re too young, we’re too small, we don’t have any money, we don’t have the means, this is small thinking. And you know what? I think small thinking is like putting limits on what we think God can do. But God knows no limits. We teach our kids that God can do anything and yet when it’s time for us to answer his call we say, “Well, we can’t do that.” And you know what, we’re right, we can’t but God can, that’s why he calls us! He can do unimaginable things through us if we just answer his call and trust in him. That’s the thing, we have to trust him, we have to have faith, faith in something bigger than ourselves that wants to work in us and through us. That’s what we’ve been talking about the last few weeks. Faith. That’s big thinking. Faith is big thinking. It’s hard to step out in faith. Our small thinking wants to kick in and say we can’t for whatever reason but that’s just when Faith, when big thinking needs to really come in and take over. I read in some commentary that “This is when God wants us to spread our wings. God seeks the well-being and fulfillment ofus as individuals and as a congregation as way to heal the world.” We have to stop our small thinking. We have to answer God’s call in our lives and in the life of the church even when it’s big thinking, even when it’s scary. We have to break through self-imposed and other-imposed barriers, through the small thinking and join God on this holy adventure to heal ourselves and the world by planting seeds of compassion and love and building bridges of hope.