Big Is Not Always Better

August 28, 2010
by Diane Eaton

Philippians 4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (NIV)

"But I want the big doll!" declared my persistent 4-year-old granddaughter after I told her that she would wake up Mommy if she went to the bedroom to get it. Clearly, I wasn't getting through to Isabella, so I decided that it was time to launch into a sermonette geared for a 4-year-old. Isabella's wide-eyed stare proved that she had no problem understanding me. She realized that she had bought into a belief that only the big doll could make her happy, and by insisting on having it, she was, in fact, making herself unhappy. Her dramatic pout served as the perfect visual aid for my point. After some re-educating, Isabella realized that a small doll could indeed make her happy. And furthermore, she had an ample selection of small dolls at her immediate disposal.

Isabella drove home an important lesson for our small churches: Big does not necessarily mean better. Yet in our society, we have been programmed to value things according to size, and we believe that bigger will make us happier. However, like Isabella, when we set our expectations on what we think we need but can't have, we set ourselves up to experience unhappiness. Furthermore, we miss God's highest blessing for us in our present circumstances.

Most of the Presbyterian churches in Canada, as well as churches of other denominations around the world, are small, and many wish they were bigger. They can be effective churches, but they must first stop wanting to be something they are not. Oswald Chambers, a nineteenth-century Scottish minister, said, "Beware of harking back to what you were once, when God wants you to be something you have never been." (from My Utmost for His Highest, June 8)

In the days ahead, when many of our churches are concerned about their "smallness", we must remember that we have one enormous advantage. We worship a BIG God who has always specialized in doing mighty things through small and humble means:

2 Corinthians 12:9a – But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (NIV)

Prayer: Lord God, enable us to rise to the challenges of putting aside our own expectations, seeking after You, our big God, and allowing You to shape us into an effective church family — the size we are. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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