Judge Me By My Size Do You?

Size isn’t everything. Just ask Yoda. 

Not my dog, Yoda, but the little green dude from Star Wars.  Yoda is a Jedi Master, a wielder of the Force, and the one who trained Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight. But it took some heavy convincing. Yoda wasn’t sold on Luke to begin with.  Too old, too fixed in his ways.  But finally he gives in and Luke actually makes some real progress, becoming more and more adept at wielding the Force.  While they were training, Luke’s X-Wing starfighter sinks into the swamp and in distress Luke exclaims, “We’ll never get it out now,” as all but a small part of the wing is below the muck.  Immediately Yoda chirps up and says, “So sure are you?  Tried have you?  Always with you it can’t be done.”  After some arguing Luke says, he’ll try and Yoda exclaims, “No!  Do or do not.  There is no try.”  But Luke can’t do it and he tells Yoda that the ship is too big.  Yoda’s tells him, “Size has no meaning.  It matters not.  Look at me.  Judge me by my size do you?” Then Yoda does what seems impossible and single-handedly lifts this gigantic starship out of the swamp.  Luke looks on in awe and whispers, “I don’t believe it.”  And Yoda responds, “That is why you fail.”

Luke’s failure had little to do with his ability.

He fails because he believes size is a determining factor for success.  And who could blame him?  Faced with such a daunting task, would we believe any differently?  His ship is literally made of tons of metal and Yoda expects him to move it with just the power of the Force?  Luke says to him, “Master, moving stones around is one thing.  This is totally different!” And Yoda responds, “No, only difference is in your mind!  You must unlearn what you have learned.”  What is it we have learned that we might have to unlearn?

2009-03-20 - Filling up the sanctuary for Kate
Our sanctuary at Roswell UMC could hold 2,000 people and at the time we had about 6,700 members.

We are a size-oriented society.

In so many ways we equate “bigger” with “better.”  In sports we value home runs over singles, the slam dunk over the lay-up, the “Hail Mary” pass over the slow march down the field.  We talk about “Big Business” and “Big Money” and look at the driving influence of such wealthy entrepreneurs as the Koch brothers, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett. Even in the church we talk about the “size” of our congregations. Mega-churches are seen as being more “successful” because they have higher attendance, can afford big buildings and newer technology, and have large campuses.  But before we buy in to the philosophy that “bigger is better” let’s not forget that Christianity, the world’s “biggest” religion[1] was not started by the rich and powerful, but by a Jewish carpenter and his twelve, normal, everyday followers. We are so quick to believe that a task is too big or a job is too daunting because of its scope and size, but the truth is success can happen on any level.

Think back to the early church.

I mean the REALLY early church, the church before buildings and sanctuaries and fellowship halls.  They not only didn’t have a regular place to meet, they didn’t have much of anything else either, but the Bible describes this group of people as being completely at peace with one another.  We stress out over a lack of money, lack of resources, and lack of people, but the early church didn’t have any of those things either.  What they DID have was something available to any church no matter what size they were. As we read this passage, think about the things they did have and how similar or different it is to our churches today.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

Did you notice what the church had?

Devotion. Awe. Common belief. Giving spirit. Togetherness. Did you notice what wasn’t mentioned?  Money. Buildings. Pews. Programs. None of the things we associate with the modern church.  The only time they came close to talking about money was when they mentioned that the followers sold their things and gave to everyone who had need.  And still “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  Could you imagine if that were true here?  Even if the Lord added to our number weekly, we would grow faster than our building could handle.  All they needed were these common core attributes – devotion, which they exhibited through worship and study; an awe of God and the work he was doing in the world; common belief in Christ without fighting about the little things; a giving spirit which they showed by doing for those around them; and being together.  That word is mentioned three times in this short passage. “Together.”  They were together in serving the Lord.  When we have those attributes, we are open to the designs of the Holy Spirit and he can do amazing things with us that we haven’t even thought of.

CINDERELLA
Samuel was like the Prince looking for Cinderella

Size alone is not a measure of worth to God. 

If God only cared about size or wealth or prestige or any of the other things the world generally measures “success” by, he never would have chosen Israel to be his chosen people.  Listen again to what Moses himself told the assembled peoples of Israel in Deuteronomy, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  We see in the Bible, time and time again how true this statement is; that God does not pick the mightiest or the smartest or the strongest of people to be his messengers.  Often they are normal, flawed people like you and me.  Take for example the story of Samuel.  If you remember, God rejects Saul as King of Israel and tells Samuel to go looking for a new one.  So during his search he goes to meet Jesse of Bethlehem and immediately, he thinks he’s found the new king in Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, but the Lord hears Samuel’s thoughts and says to him in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  So in a scene reminiscent of Cinderella[2], Samuel asks to see each of Jesse’s other sons.  But as each one walks by, God says “Nope, not the one.”  And after all seven of Jesse’s oldest sons walk by and having the Lord reject them all, Samuel asks “Are these all the sons you have?” and Jesse admits, “There is one more, but he’s out in the back tending the sheep.”  Tending the sheep!  Could there BE any more clear sign for Samuel?  It was like the glass slipper fit right on this youngest son’s foot.  And when the youngest son walks in, God tells Samuel, “That’s the one.”  And so began the reign of King David, slayer of Goliath and long considered the greatest king of the Israeli people.  David wasn’t the biggest or the oldest or the smartest nor was he free of sin, but God did say that David was a man after His own heart, and THAT’S what was important to God.  His heart, not his size.

IMG_4662
My dog Yoda who actually is quite small but with a LOT of fight in him – too much sometimes.

Like Yoda said, “Size has no meaning.”

We’ve seen throughout the Bible that God does amazing things with small groups of people.  Gideon and his army of 300.  David and his slingshot.  Jesus and the 12 disciples.  As Mark Twain put it, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.  It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”  That’s what matters.  Are we willing to live up to the core values that Christ taught us?  Because there really isn’t anything we can’t do if we are willing to go all out.  If we are willing to do what’s necessary to reach people for God, we can do it.  But are we willing?  I think we are.  I think we can definitely do it.  And I believe strongly that there is a reason why all of us were brought together in this time and place.  But it’s something we have to decide to do together.  So when we come forward today for communion, come before Christ and lay down your doubts.  Lay down your worries.  Share with God those things that make it difficult for us to move forward together and pray for God’s strength and will to shine through in the days to come.  Because we will only succeed if like those early disciples we are devoted, we are in awe of what God can do in us, we agree on our common beliefs, we have a giving spirit, and we do it TOGETHER.

 

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/04/02/397042004/muslim-population-will-surpass-christians-this-century-pew-says

[2] http://www.asails.freeserve.co.uk/King%20Eliab.htm.  Rev. Andrew Sails used the Cinderella reference in a sermon on a completely different subject, but it was such a clever comparison, I wanted to use it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: