I have been thinking a lot recently about what a great gift it is to be insignificant.
I hear a lot of talk about how significant people are – especially in church circles – and there is a real feeling that we must be reaffirming the significance of each other all the time. I feel more and more that this is misguided.
Its certainly true that all of us need to accept our own significance in God’s eyes, and certainly developmentally children need to understand their own significance, as it is a key part of their feeling of self worth. But as adults we really need to get past this thing of needing to feel significant all the time. There are so many people who are told they will acheive ‘big things’ as if somehow big things are more important or valuable than small things – when in fact big things are usually just a collection of small things. But who wants to be told they will acheive ‘small things’?
The thing with significance is that while for a child it is important, it should no longer be required for adults. And as we grow in spiritual maturity we should be able to put behind us our need to be reassured over our significance, and get on with the graft of doing the little things that come our way.
I’m often struck by the way Jesus entered his ministry. After that initial whiz bang birth – what happens? Well the family beetle off to become political refugees for a while that’s what. And after they come back, despite his antics at the temple, by the time it comes to Jesus ministry, the only one who seems to be expecting anything from him is his mum! What happened to all the others who were knocking around at the birth? Did they keep it a secret? Did they forget? Did the family not talk about it? ‘Mum, what’s that Frankincense and Mrryh doing on the mantle piece?’
The reality is – if you ignore the hindu tales about Jesus in India, Pakistan or wherever, and the apocraphyl tales from some of the more spurious contenders to the Biblical canon – that Jesus has a largely insignificant life up until the start of his ministry. That doesnt mean he was any the less significant as a person – he was Jesus for goodness sake! But after the star, the Magi, the adoring shepherds, he didnt need people to keep coming and telling him how important he was.
There is something there that we need to grab hold of – we need to quit whining about recognition for the things that we do for a start, we need to quit the dedicated seeking of reassurance about our personal importance in God’s plan. Instead we need to get on with the small things which are in front of us. After all, many of the things Jesus did were small things – to help an individual here, to perform an act of kindness there. To pray for someone, to give of yourself to someone. These arent necessarily ‘big things’ but taken together, as a group of small things, they become big.
Jesus showed us that we must resist the temptation to take on the role of a great king, that we should gently put aside the pretensions to earthly power and authority, and instead we should humbly ride to our personal death on a borrowed donkey. Jesus bids us come and die, and he bids us do that even if alsmost everyone else has turned away from us, gone home and left us alone, on a rubbish tip, surrounded by thieves and murderers.
So I say embrace insignificance, accept it, recognise it as a friend, dont continue to seek the childish gratification of mutual back slapping and exhortational prophecy – but get out into the fields, because the corn needs harvesting.
I feel a bit like I’m on ‘thought for the day’ – heaven preserve us!