Gaylon Embrey

A spirit of "bigness" prevails today. It is the spirit of the times in which we live. People continue to move from small towns to large cities, school systems consolidate, small businesses give way to large corporations. Quite naturally this trend toward bigness has carried over into the department of religion.

Spiritual greatness is today measured by size. Big churches are automatically assumed to be great churches. Big churches have hit the big time and are learning to "think big". Religious leaders talk of the need for "vision" and quote the words of Solomon, "Where there is no vision the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18) But when they speak of "vision" they do not mean what Solomon meant by the word. They do not refer to revelation from God, or, for that matter, the ability to perceive divine revelation. They refer instead to the ability to conceive, the talent to create, the imagination to invent things of great magnitude, BIG THINGS. As a result of this kind of thinking most everything done in the name of Jesus Christ today is part of some large-scale production. Modern Christianity consists of one momentous occasion after another, special days, great programs, worldwide crusades, international campaigns, giant rallies, etc. Everything is big, big, BIG!

The psychology behind all this is not difficult to see. Even the deadest church member can be temporarily worked up by means of a spiritual "spectacular," whereas an everyday practice of the faith of Christ might not interest him in the least. Knowing this, religious leaders devise their various extravaganzas. The purpose is to generate enthusiasm and activity among professing believers. Unfortunately the strategy never really works. It succeeds in creating extra interest alright, but only a very artificial kind that quickly fades with the lights. Then other, larger, more fascinating adventures must be offered.

The point is simply this: Nobody seems to want to do anything "little" anymore. As in the days of Zechariah men despise "the day of small things." The bigger the better is the popular approach, and so much so that any spiritual endeavor that cannot be described with glowing adjectives denoting bigness has little chance of acceptance or success.

Personally I believe this approach is fundamentally unsound and antagonistic to the divine faith taught in the New Testament. Certainly it is opposed to the spirit of personal, constant, consistent, daily practice of righteousness. The early Christians ministered daily to the needs of the indigent (Acts 6:1), preached Christ daily both in public and in private (Acts 5:42), searched the Scripture daily (Acts 17:11), exhorted one another daily (Heb. 3:13); and, as a result, converted sinners daily to the Lord (Acts 2:47). A faith such as this is not appealing to many folks today, for obvious reasons. It is not big enough, it does not make headlines; it does not provide a source for human glory resulting from world-shaking accomplishments. All a faith like this does is execute the will of God on earth, which is what really counts. It may seem small and insignificant to "big thinkers," but surely it is a faith big enough to save us.