Do not despise humble beginnings.
Date Published: 01 / 3 / 2022 |
After spending 70 years in captivity in Babylon (you thought your life was difficult!), 40,000 exiled Jews went back to Jerusalem 2500 years ago. They traveled through the desert - men, women, and children between nations and armies that could annihilate or enslave the whole group. 40,000 people building a little temple to their God in the desert surrounded by millions of hostile people. From the standpoint of world history and world events, this was a big nothing-burger.
Yet, with this small group of people God was going to rebuild a church and a city for the good of all nations.
With no army, a small workforce, unskilled laborers, outcasts, very little money or resources, their leader, Zerubabbel, felt the impossibility and intimidation of his situation. How would they do this work that God is calling them to do? Feels like an impossible situation set up for failure; not to mention the slow painstaking work, human sinfulness, flakey workers, selfish agendas, large investments with no return, no traction, delays, mistakes, and low morale. It is at this point that God sends His word by a messenger angel:
Zechariah 4:6-7; 10
Then he said to me,
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
God regularly puts us in situations that reveal to us our desperate need of Him. And here He says, “You cannot do it without my Spirit. Your resources and toughness are not enough. With me, we will get this done in ways you never imagined.” But beyond that, God addresses the attitude of unbelief and the idol of success, God calls him to see with the eyes of faith and prayer: an attitude that optimistically says of this situation, “Grace, grace to it!” God goes even further with this command:
Zechariah 4:10 (New Living Translation)
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
God loves the beginning of a gospel work. It is the time when it is most clear to us that God will need to intervene if anything significant is going to happen. God is not concerned, he knows what he is going to do.
All Souls Church is at this point. The small beginning is not a pride-building experience or anything to brag about. In fact, there is a bit of misplaced shame in being part of a fledgling little church. We are a small group of 40 or so people in the desert land called LA surrounded by hostile spiritual forces and millions of people that are either antagonistic or indifferent to Jesus. What will God do? Will it all fall flat? Will the money run out? Will people come? Are we failing? Or could we pray, plan, preach, serve, and trust that it will be what He wants it to be?
May we not despise these small beginnings at All Souls, but instead let us lean into his power source and His promise to build his church. It is not by might, nor by power, but it is by His Spirit alone that we will build a church together for the city. I long to see what He has done with us in five years! May He do it in a way that we all see his power!
See you on Sunday for the public opening of All Souls Church!
Grace and peace,