Vol. 12 No. 1 January 2010
One of the members was talking to me this past Sunday. He said that he was at a church building (not in our county). He did not know anything about it, but he noted the sign said “so-and-so (not the actual name) Church.” As he neared the sign, he noticed down near the ground, mostly covered up by brush, in little-bitty letters, “A Church of Christ.” He said that it seemed to him that they felt that glorifying themselves was more important than glorifying God and His Son Jesus Christ. I told him that I know that, sadly, some churches have indeed thrown Jesus out, not just in their designation of themselves, but in their doctrine and practices.
All of that aside, however, this conversation got me to thinking. One of the real problems that we have as individuals is when it becomes big us—little God. That does not mean that we do not recognize God, or that we are not aware of Him, but that sometimes we let our wishes, our thoughts and our desires outgrow God in our lives. Remember this story in the life of Moses?
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. (Numbers 20:7-12)
For a moment, the humble servant Moses forgot himself. I believe that for a moment it was big Moses—little God. First of all, he says, “must we fetch you water,” not “must God fetch you water.” Like often happens when we get our mind mixed up like this, Moses disobeyed God. God said “speak to the rock” and Moses struck it twice. Note God’s expectation has always been that we do what He says in exactly the way He says to do it. In our lives, we have to fight this tendency to put ourselves above God. In religion in general, most have succumbed to the concept of big me – little God, leading to practices and doctrines not authorized by God.
Note some of the great men of the Bible and their attitudes. Joseph: “It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16); David: “and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:47); Daniel: “The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?’ Daniel answered the king and said, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind’” (Daniel 2:26-30); Paul: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
We must strive to live lives dedicated to the idea of a big God and little me. This applies to each of us as individuals, as well as to congregations and groups that would think of themselves as Christian. Until we walk in the ways of God, in faithful obedience in Him, and until we come to a deep and abiding faith that He is in control and until we are willing to subjugate self before the Almighty Creator and glorify Him in our lives and words, we will not please Him, and will not win in the end. On the other hand, if we will submit in faithful obedience to His will and His guidance, we will be blessed for it forever.
It was a time for renewed beginnings. The children of Israel, having left Egypt a generation ago, had wandered through the wilderness for forty years. The generation that left Egypt would not see the Promised Land because of its stubborn and rebellious heart. A new generation, under the leadership of Joshua, had left the wilderness and had begun conquering the land God had promised to Abraham so many years before. Now, as they prepared to go take possession of the land, Joshua offered them both encouragement and a challenge. “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).
Today, we stand at the threshold of a New Year, a year that offers us renewed beginnings. What kind of year will it be, for you individually, and all of us together as the body of Christ? What opportunities are ahead? What challenges will we face? What will we accomplish this year, in our own lives and for the sake of the kingdom?
We may not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. No doubt this year will bring tragedy and triumph, defeat and success, joy and sorrow. No matter what we encounter, we can be more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37). Only in Him can we know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This New Year can be great, no matter what happens, if we trust in God and commit our ways to Him.
What are some choices we can make this year, which will help us in living the Christian life? We can choose to be faithful in every opportunity to assemble with brothers and sisters in Christ. Take advantage of worship assemblies, Gospel meetings, lectureships and the joy of fellowship. Life in Christ is easier when shared with others than when we try to go it alone. We can choose to spend time in the Word of God everyday. Our special emphasis on daily Bible reading is a good way to let Scripture sink into our hearts and minds, to direct and guide us through all the challenges life offers. Life in Christ is easier when we allow God to direct our paths through His Word. We can also choose to be constant in prayer. Communication is such an important part of any relationship, but how much more so with our heavenly Father. What strength we will find when prayer is an unfailing aspect of daily living.
Like Joshua, we should choose whom we will serve. The gods of materialism, pleasure and worldliness are ill suited to help us make the most of this New Year. The God of Scripture, who offered His Son on our behalf, can help us make the most of it, no matter what happens. For yourself, and as part of the body of Christ, choose today to serve the Lord. Renewed in Him, what a great year this will be!