Not My Name

This week at my church is the incredible, exciting, draining, and yet fulfilling event known as Vacation Bible School. VBS has always been an extra special time around here, and last night was just the beginning of what I am sure will be a fantastic week.

Last night in the Bible lesson we talked briefly about the Tower of Babel. Do you remember that one? It’s in the 11th chapter of Genesis if you would like to read it for yourself. (You probably should.) One of the neat things that I have experienced at just about every VBS that I have ever been a part of is that the truth shared is just as relevant for adults as it is for the kids.

Anyway, back to the Tower of Babel. Actually, the story is more about the people than the actual tower. You see, God has told mankind twice now in the book of Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28, 9:1) It’s important for us to understand that God’s command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth is about much more than just simply having babies. It is about obedience to God and making His name great.

The problem with the people of Babel? They chose not to obey God. The settled down instead of spreading across and filling the whole earth, and they tried to make themselves famous instead of God.

The ancient people ignored God’s instructions, clustered together, and tried to make themselves great.

Sadly, not much has changed.

People now, just like people then, have a tendency to ignore God’s clear instructions, cluster together in alike tribes, and make themselves great-often at the expense of others.

So, what do we, who have put our trust in Jesus, do about this? Or how should we respond?

We first start by looking in the mirror.

God’s Old Testament command is echoed in the New Testament when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) God told Adam and Eve to reproduce in order to produce children who would know, obey, and love God. God now tells us to produce disciples who know, obey, and love Jesus.

But the temptation to cluster together and build a name for ourselves is ever-present. Sadly, at times, churches can be so focused on programs and events that they lose sight of what is truly important.

We cannot worry about increasing our church empires, we need to be focused on increasing His Kingdom.

Francis Chan has a pretty matter-of-fact quote “Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.” Ouch.

The Bible is pretty clear that those who follow Jesus are to be lights in this dark and dying world. We need to shine in the dark and we cannot allow the comfort of our familiar tribe to prevent us from doing so.

Tribalism is a dangerous and unproductive thing and it has no place in the church of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me be clear, I am not advocating that we stop spending time with the people whom we love and are comfortable with. What I am saying though is, let’s be sure to be active in our love and Good News witness to people who don’t fit inside of our cookie cutter vision.

There are a whole lot of people in this world. Many of them do not look, think, act, smell, sound, or see things the way you do. That is O.K. Our objective is not to make people become just like us. Our goal is to show people how to become like Jesus.

I don’t want to make my name great.

I want to make His name great.

Your “Insignificance” Matters

There are many people, chances are that you are one of them, who walk through life feeling insignificant at one time or another.  We feel this way because, for the most part, we are. Ouch.

This is a very frustrating reality for a majority of us who crave to “make a name for ourselves.” But I got good news, our insignificance is okay. In fact, our insignificance matters more than we realize. You could say, our insignificance is actually really significant.

I want to take a moment and tell you about an insignificant guy. His name was Edward and he lived a long time ago. If you were to Google his first and last name looking for a biography you wouldn’t find all that much. Most stories about Edward would start with the fact that he was an ordinary, run of the mill, dry goods salesman who was talked into teaching a Sunday School class at his church.

Well, this ordinary salesman taught his class of teenage boys faithfully, even when they acted like…teenage boys. He loved his class and prayed for each of them to come to know Jesus. He was never applauded for teaching his class. No one ever gave him an award or graduated him to the “big leagues” of teaching an adult Sunday School class.

God did use Edward, however, because he led at least one teen boy (probably more) to Christ. That teenager’s name? Dwight. Thanks to Edward’s faithfulness Dwight trusted in Jesus for his salvation and began to grow in love with his God. Dwight developed a passion for reaching people with the good news of the Gospel.

Dwight became relentless in his evangelism and his commitment to serving God. At an event that Dwight was speaking at, a man named John Wilber decided to put his trust in Jesus Christ.

Since the Gospel is contagious, and since John Wilber couldn’t stop talking about his Savior, Jesus, soon after another man, Billy, put his trust in Jesus thanks to J. Wilber’s sharing. The newly converted Billy went on to become a very famous evangelist. And at one of Billy’s gospel crusades, a man named Mordecai decided to put his trust in Jesus.

Mordecai also decided that he needed to share the Gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen. One person who listened was another young man named Billy. From that day forward Billy dedicated his life to serving Jesus with everything he had. He faithfully served his Savior up until he went home to see his God on February 21, 2018.

So, in case you got lost, here is the chain of events described above.

Edward Kimball led Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the most impactful evangelist of the 19th century, to Christ.

Moody hosted and spoke at a Gospel rally where J. Wilber Chapman came to know Jesus.

Chapman led Billy Sunday, an evangelist so influential that even Frank Sinatra sang about him, to Jesus and mentored him.

Billy Sunday spoke at that Gospel meeting and his preaching influenced Mordecai Ham to trust Jesus.

Mordecai Ham began to hold Gospel crusades. It was at one of those crusaded where Billy Graham, the most impactful evangelist of the 20th century, who preached the Gospel to literally millions of people, decided to trust in Jesus as his Savior.

Thank you, Edward, for your faithfulness. Thank you, Edward, for not being afraid of insignificance.

Your insignificance matters. You may not be the next D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, or Billy Graham, but that is OK. We need more Edwards. It’s very clear that God uses the Edwards of the world. God can use YOU.

No matter how insignificant your day to day life might seem I can assure you, it is significant.

There is no telling what kind of impact on eternity you can have if you would just be faithful in doing what God has instructed you to do.

Romans 10:14

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Don’t miss your chance to let God use you. Make the most of every opportunity, even if it seems insignificant.