Kevin Reilly – Gdańsk, Poland
Our God is a great God. Unlimited in his power, he knows all things and he is present in all things. The rule of Christ is forever increasing in the earth and the universe will one day be made new upon his return. These are great and gargantuan statements indeed. But the point at which God in all his vastness encounters a human being is always a very small and personal thing.
This quality of God – his intimate love of the hidden and the invisible – is something for us to pursue. Jesus expresses this aspect of God’s nature in foundational Kingdom-teaching to his disciples and to a crowd on top of a mountain (Mt 5:2-11). It is the poor in spirit, the mourning and the meek; those pursuing God’s righteousness; the merciful and the heart people and the peace-lovers and the persecuted ones. These God blesses.
Bruised reeds and flickering candles are of concern to our Lord (Mt 12:15-21). Even whilst he is in hot pursuit of justice and victory (v20) Jesus is mindful of the small and the hidden and the almost extinguished.
Jesus himself lived this way. In stark contrast to Roman Imperialism and established Jewish religion, he chooses to pour himself into the overlooked and the undervalued. He surrounds himself with the misguided (Simon the Zealot) and the broken (Mary Magdalene), the dubious (Judas) and the rejected (Mathew), the ordinary and unschooled (Peter and John). He writes nothing. He builds nothing. He spends the entirety of his three ministry years doing only what he sees his Father doing – loving those in front of him and teaching his disciples to do the same.
Emma and I have spent 13 years in Gdańsk. As best we can, we have sort to love God, love people and make disciples. The church community that we belong to – Kościół Grono – is now 6/7 adults in size. We have been bigger and we have been smaller. Dear friends in Smiltene and Pardubice have similar stories. Others have laboured for decades and serve communities of 25 or fewer. Indeed, the largest congregation within the Lighthouse Community, numbers around 60-70 people and it has taken 26 years to grow to this size!
We are not called to pursue numbers – we are called to pursue righteousness. We are not called to pursue the whole earth but instead we go after meekness (Mt 5 again). When mission becomes the mission, we lose site of what matters most – loving God and loving people and making disciples of the people that we are trying (with God’s help) to reach and to love. These are always to be our primary activities. There is no greater work than this!
Numbers matter in business; but we are not a business. We are not an industry and we do not compete. We are God’s family – son’s and daughters, disciples and followers of Jesus and so, like Jesus, we will always be called to love and serve small things.
However many gather to you, you will still be called to invest your life in service to the ones and the twos, in some way. Jesus did this! He could minister in power to the crowds, but he didn’t stay there. He journeyed with his small band of followers and continued to invest in them personally. And so we are never to delegate away our calling to love and serve the ones and the twos in order to become more globally connected via our zoom ministry or our platforms. Jesus didn’t.
He was Jesus of Nazareth, of Galilee (Mt 21:11) and he ministered to people physically, in this region. And I am Kevin of Gdańsk and so I minister to people here – with the Holy Spirit’s help, loving God, loving people and making disciples.
I certainly do pray for more, because Christ is seated in victory and his Kingdom is growing (not shrinking) in the earth. And so more gospel fruitfulness, more salvation and more baptisms. But my mission right now is to love God and to love those around me – my wife and my children; the Christian friends who meet in our home; my dear friends who don’t yet know Jesus, but who continue to journey with us anyway.
These are small things in light of global events, but the kingdom is likened to such small things (Mt 13:31-47): seeds and yeast and hidden treasure and an old fishing net and a hopeful pearl-merchant who continues to trawl the markets, looking for something truly glorious, beautiful and authentic and yet…so very small.