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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

A Day of Small Things

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

A Day of Small Things


Lucy, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown are lying on a hillside on a beautiful summer day. The conversation goes something like this:


Schroeder—“Look at those clouds over there. They remind me of Beethoven as he was composing his fifth symphony.”


Lucy—“Yes, and that group of clouds reminds me of the great military leader, Hannibal, as he led his troops across the Alps in 218 BC.”


Lucy—“What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?”


Charlie Brown—“Well, I was going to say a horsey and a doggy, but I changed my mind.”

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Like Schroeder and Lucy, it seems to be the default of religion—to Complicate the Simple. The ancient Hebrews were experts in complicated.


They offered to God, sacrifices of cattle, sheep, grain, and oil. They were meticulous about tithing, praying, and fasting. They strictly observed feasts, festivals, and sabbaths. They were obsessed with what foods to avoid, proper washing of hands, and how far one could walk on the Sabbath…But the prophet Micah simply says to them, What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.


The brothers of Jesus wanted him to go up to Jerusalem and make himself known to the religious leaders, to impress them with his power and convince them with his message…Jesus, instead, goes to see a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.


The Jewish religious leaders took ten commandments and turned them into 613 rules…Jesus took the same ten and reduced them to two: Love God, and love your neighbor


The first century Jewish prophecy-watchers were looking for a great king who would transform the political landscape, destroy the power of Rome, and establish Jewish supremacy…

…And one night, the veil between time and eternity quietly parted and a baby was born in a stable to an unmarried teenage girl.

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In modern America today, it seems as if religion is once more the poster child for complicating the simple.


I saw a Christian book site that listed 75 books on the subject of stress and worry management for Christian…And Jesus says, “why do you worry, look at the birds...consider the flowers.”


In our time there are prayer meetings, prayer conferences, prayer breakfasts, prayer books, prayer seminars, prayer days, and books on how to pray…And Jesus says, go into your room, close the door, and pray.


American Christian mission agencies have a combined annual budget of $5.2 billion…And Jesus calls us to be a light where we live and give a cup of cold water to a child.


There are approximately 900 translations of the Bible or parts of the Bible. Many Bibles have topical headings at the beginning of each section, footnotes at the bottom, and somebody’s explanation in the margins. There are thousands of commentaries that scrutinize every chapter, every verse, and every word of every book of the Bible…..And Jesus said to the pharisees, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.


More than 1600 churches in the United States have an attendance of 2000 or more. Some have several city blocks of facilities, and are equipped with their own book stores, mini malls, and espresso cafes.


Lakewood Church in Houston, The largest church in America, has a weekly attendance of 43,500, and employees 368 full or part time staff…And Jesus says, Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.


I wonder why churches work so hard to get as big as they possible can and then say, “We need to have small groups.”


Some church budgets soar to as much as $75 million annually. American churches together, spend over $800 million a year on their own financial audits, and 8 billion a year on conferences.


Churches have ministries to the poor, but Considering their financial “needs” it seems pretty obvious that they cannot really afford to have very many poor people occupy the pews…However, the poor, the marginal, and the social outcasts were the very people Jesus seemed to be drawn to.


Many have even come to believe that the bigger the ministry and the more money that is given may be taken as a sign of God’s approval and blessing…And yet Jesus said, of a widow who gave only two small copper coins (worth $1.87 in our currency) “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”


In the Old Testament, God sent Gideon’s 300 against the 120,000 of the Midianites. When the Giant Goliath confronted Israel, it would be a young shepherd boy with a sling shot who would take him down. And while Elijah looked for God in the earthquake, wind, and fire, God came as a gentle whisper.

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Don’t misunderstand, I know that many large churches, ministries, and mission organizations do much good in this world. However, the church today seems, so often, to be addicted to success and money and enamored with the mega, the mighty, and the great.


I wonder if we can become trapped in what I would call the Pharisaical paradox, where the complicated and convoluted religious things we do to try to know God, may become the very things that keep us from knowing God.


Could there be a forgotten (or ignored) message hidden in the life of Jesus? Ah! yes, remember Jesus: Born in an oxcart culture, in an obscure village, to an unmarried teenage girl, and raised as a carpenter’s son. He spent most of his public life with just twelve men. The crowds that had followed him dwindled, his friends deserted him, and when they came to make him king, he ran away to the mountains.


Jesus compared great faith to a mustard seed which is about four one hundredths of an inch in diameter. And he said that the greatest in the kingdom of God is a little child.

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Over 2500 years ago, the prophet Zechariah told the Hebrew people that the work of God would go forward… Not by might or by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty. And he also issued a warning. One translation puts it, who dares despise the day of small things.”


But then, what would Zechariah know. Today’s theologians consider him a “minor” prophet. After all, he didn’t write as many words as Isaiah or Jeremiah. And in our world where everything seems measured by how many and how much, I guess that makes you minor.

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At times I feel like Tom Sawyer when he had enough of what he called his Aunt Polly’s “religious rigamarole” and set out for life on the Mississippi.


To seek God, in prayer, in Scripture, in creation, in life, and within (where Jesus says the kingdom of God is found)…To humble myself before my Creator…to follow Jesus in reaching out to a broken world with mercy, love, forgiveness, and generosity…to live simply, care for God’s good earth, and share the journey of faith with a few others—What more does God ask of me?







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