In Tolkien’s works, one of the constant themes throughout the story is seen in the hobbits. They are small, insignificant. They have none amongst the ranks of great heroes or thinkers. Yet, it is a small band of hobbits that successfully bring the Ring to the fires of Mt. Doom, and save the free peoples of Middle Earth. Sauron underestimated the halflings, and thus could never imagine them being any threat to his power. Such a story has a nice ring to its readers, but how does this relate to the Christian walk?
The Christian church has too long been a place to come and receive entertainment instead of doing what it was meant to do from the beginning: being the hands and feet of Jesus and spreading the living waters of the Gospel throughout he world by the Spirit’s power. This entails being the place where the people of God flock to worship Him, and in loving discipline guiding the people towards lives in godliness. Yet many churches saw the darkness in the world, and the entertainment filled churches, and instantly think the best way to combat such darkness is to grow their influence to the millions, fielding vast “armies” of followers, and growing quickly to the status megachurch, though megachurches with preachers that preached the word. Though I do not doubt the sincerity of many of them, nor the effectiveness of getting good teaching out to thousands and millions, this still misses the point. I am not here trying to dissuade Christians from taking power; in fact, we should not be afraid to seize power and use it for good.
Yet we must not underestimate the power of the church when she does what Christ intended for her to do, and sometimes this can look very humble and unassuming. Many of these churches worship each Sunday, are part of their local, small communities, and do the hard work of walking people through the Christian journey. The preachers and teachers of these churches may not receive millions of hits on YouTube, nor make millions in book-deals. But have they no influence?
“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?” Such simple words from Micah, but how often to we underestimate the power of them? Many of us will not go on to lives of great influence. We will not find millions of followers or be remembered in the history books. But is this what the Lord requires of us? The Lord requires us to be obedient to His law, to love Him and His people, and walk humbly before Him. For those of us who have seen the power of the transforming power of the Gospel in the heart of a sinner, you know that such actions are far more powerful than we think. And the church that nurtures and grows many souls in doing just that has far more influence than the world would think. Brothers and sisters do not underestimate the power of a simple life of obedience to God.
So often, it pleases the Lord to use such simple and joyful obedience. Though some are called to lives of great influence, many of us are called to go to work, get married, have children, and live quite lives in the communities that we were born into. Such lives seem unglamorous, and why would the forces of darkness fear such simple folks? They are not converting thousands to the church! They are not exerting great power over evil! But too often the enemy, like Sauron, underestimates such simple things. God uses the humble, like Gideon, and low and behold, great things can happen. The cheerfulness of the Christian family on display to those around them turn the eyebrows of many. The help lent to the needy by the churches in a community can cause many to rethink the gospel. And the faithful preaching of the word when the stranger comes in the door is so often the means God uses to turn a dead heart to repentance.
So I shall leave you with this. Though power is good and right in certain situations, do not sell yourself short. Do not underestimate, like our enemies do, the power of a simple life. Do what you are called to do with joy, taking pride in the fact that you are a son or daughter of the King. If our communities were filled with such men and women today, they would look much different. The followers garnered on the internet may fall away tomorrow. But the influence of plodding and diligent work in our local communities can last generations.