Thursday, September 16, 2010

Search for Insignificance

So last weekend, the news channels told me repeatedly, there was this insignificant pastor of an insignificant congregation who wanted to burn a book. And so this insignificant pastor of this insignificant congregation received far more media attention than he deserved, because everyone should have realized that both he and his congregation were utterly insignificant. After all, they only have 30 or 40 people attending the church.

It so happens that I was once an assistant pastor at a small church. That church was so small and, therefore, insignificant, that I will need to pass over those years in silence.

But just two weeks ago, I attended the memorial service of a retired pastor. His congregation had apparently been extremely small. In fact, I had never personally met the pastor (and with a congregation so small, what would have been the point really?) But what was so amazing about that memorial service were the people who travelled far distances to pay their respects, to speak about how this pastor led them to faith in Christ, to express appreciation for the long hours this pastor poured into their lives.

At one point in the evening, as people were joyfully sharing their appreciation, it became evident that many of these people had recently been on missions trips and had shared their own faith in numerous ways. One man, a physician, travels across the globe every year in order to serve a very needy (and no doubt insignificant) population.

This pastor also had children and grandchildren who loved the Lord and served Him, too. In summary, the fruit of this man's life was abundant. His legacy was deep, lasting, and encouraging. I've never been at a memorial service filled with as much joy as I was that evening. It was as if the curtain between earth and heaven was very, very thin.

I am not surprised that TV and radio personalities judge a pastor's significance by the size of his congregation. They no doubt judge their own significance by their audience, come to think of it. But I can't help but think of that day when we stand before our God, and we see so many insignificant people cheered into the presence of God... and we see far too many superstar pastors and megapersonalities ushered to the back row. Or worse, shown the exit door altogether.

What is man's chief purpose? To glorify and enjoy God forever. Let's keep forever in view, or else we may be doomed to insignificance ourselves.

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