November 13 – A wonderful Life in a Big World


It’s a wonderful life in a big world. At first it seems a little overwhelming, but when you get used to it, you’ll never go back to a small world.

The wonder of the big world is what makes the headline so sad. Religious ‘nones’ are not only growing, they’re becoming more secular, says a new report from Pew Research. Could it be that the growing population of “nones” is the growing population of those frightened by the awesome and sometime frightening enormity of our world? I think so.

Another recent study is typical of the research that shows that people of active faith are more likely to volunteer and give for the good of others than those without faith.

In the old world of “everyone is a Christian,” atheism may have seemed bold and courageous. The non-conformist who never went to church was seen as strong enough to be his or her own person. It may be, however, that the “nones” are cowards, afraid to live in a world so wonderfully bigger than anything they might imagine. Hoarding their time, their talents, and their treasures, their world is no bigger than the small group of friends at the office, the people they meet at the gym or the dog park, the resorts on the beach that hide the demeaning poverty of those whose meager livings are made by serving poolside drinks and placing a mint on pillow after the hotel room bed is made.

From the rich young ruler to Nicodemus who came to him by cover of night, Jesus was always calling people from the safety of their small worlds to the exhilarating danger of his gigantic world. “Love God and love your neighbor,” Jesus said. “It’s not about you,” he might say to a world with more and more “nones.”

One of the many joys of my job is that all time I meet people who are choosing the expansive world of the love of God and neighbor over the suffocatingly small world of self.

From the past seven days:

John and Jessica Cropsey: John has just filed a report on his recent trip to Congo: The Nundu Eye Surgical Safari. Read the entire report. John has chosen God’s big world over the a small world of professional success and sipping drinks poolside. A motor trip in “Umutama Kazi” has got to beat business class every time.

Kevin and Jen Deane: Spend a few minutes at Hunting Park Christian Academy’s brand new Video Night In page. Kevin and Jen and every teacher and staff member at HPCA has chosen the sometimes dangerous, but always big, world of inner city ministry on a wild bet that the God who sets the captive free might someday use one of their 200 students to make Philadelphia a city that better lives up to its name of brotherly love.

Jessica Joviano: Jessica is a 24-year old from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She was 10 yers old when we first met her and all the odds were against her. If Favela da Ventosa has a bad section, or should we say an even worse section, Jessica and her mom lived there. You’d make your way down the red clay hillside to that little house, knowing that at night there’d be drug deals going down, and that things often went bad during the deals. Gun shots were not uncommon. But Jessica was one of those kids who was drawn to the church like iron to a magnet. There was something about this Gospel that kept bringing her back. Jessica is still a faithful member of IPJA. Also, she has become a bombadeira, a fire fighter, first responder. That is Jessica on the right in the header photo. She is working to save lives following the recent dam burst in Brazil. Turning her back on the evil at her doorstep, Jessica has followed Jesus into a big world of being the amazing person she was created and redeemed to be.

My LPC Friends: Again, just this past week with details changed only because the stories are not only mine to tell. The deacon who takes a care assignment with someone she has never met and then ends up loving her for the rest of her life. The member blessed with resources who makes a generous gift and tells the Mission Committee to use it to change the world (there’s more than one of these folks at LPC, in case you’re wondering). The successful business person who says he’d like to use his leadership skill and abilities to help LPC continue to grow and reach new people. The father and grandfather who doggedly pursues God’s call to bring the gospel into the lives of those who are the ages of his own children and grandchildren. A professional number cruncher who God has made so compassionate that he can’t help but reach out to those with less. The young mom who has come to know Jesus and his amazing grace and works tirelessly to tell her story in word and deed to friends and family. All those “supermarket missionaries” who keep our food pantry so well stocked and our neighbors fed. In every case, and a hundred more, these are everyday LPC people who refuse to live in a small, godless world and choose instead to live life big.

It’s a wonderful life in a big world. At first it seems a little overwhelming, but when you get used to it, you’ll never go back to a small world.

See you Sunday!