In my recent (5/15/16) blog I heralded the commendable characteristics of generosity, caring for others, humility, and good humor that have been so refreshingly displayed in several larger-than-life sports, theatrical, and literary super-stars. I will stand by that. With so much posturing and vanity and negativity obvious in the political landscape, I’m thankful for those who really could boast, but choose the path of self-effacing modesty and caring for others.

But in God’s design to create all things new, and as an essential component of that New Creation, to bring into being a New Humanity that reflects his own design for the human community … God primarily uses little people, i.e., ‘nobodies’: “For consider your calling brothers and sisters, not many of you were powerful, not many of you were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (I Corinthians 1:26 ff.).

Yes, in this groaning creation, it has always been, and is, that vast unseen company of little people who are the sweet aroma of Christ to their neighbors in what are so often difficult, demeaning settings of their daily engagements in minimum-wage (or less) labor, in maintenance, in agriculture, in creating families, in surviving hostile principalities and powers, in the labyrinths of corporate life, in the professions of medicine, journalism, environmental stewardship, … and on and on. In the two millennia of the church’s history it is these who have used their homes and daily lives and modest resources … to be those who demonstrated/incarnated the good news of Jesus into the remote, obscure, back roads, and unseen places of ministry.

The real heroes and heroines are those who have embraced Jesus and his reconciling love, who frequently walk themselves through those expressions of new life and behavior that the Holy Spirit generates in them; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). They know that however modest their circumstances, they are called to be the radiant display of the divine nature, that they are endowed with the divine nature through Jesus Christ (who, remember, made himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant). They know that by virtue of their baptism they are ordained to be part of Jesus’ missionary mandate. They most often are those whom the larger society considers ‘nobodies’ but they also know that they are to be those who are instruments of his peace … even at the risk of their lives.

Christ’s ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ has been, and is, permeating people groups globally through these little people. There are those gifted leaders, to be sure, … but the real leavening force of Christ’s New Humanity is at the grassroots. That community is transnational. It is reconciling. It seeks the welfare of the homeless, the migrant, the sick, the hungry, and the naked. It is redemptive and loving, and has a zeal for justice. It is not captive to any ethnic, political, social, or national entity in this calling.

Were the whole fine-print history of the church over the generations were known, it would be the obscure, non-glamorous men and women living out the authority Christ has given them as his holy nation and his royal priesthood that is most significant. Such are, in truth, the body of Christ in this real world. They / we are a motley crew, but our calling is from the Lord of All, and it is an awesome calling. Praise God for the great host of faithful little people.

[I would be grateful for your feedback, and for your recommending this blog to friends.]

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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