9-3-17 Sermon on Mt 18 “When Small Is Great” by Dr. Sloan
9-3-17 “When Small is Great” Sermon on Matthew 18:1-6, 18-20 by Dr. Sloan at LMPC
To See a Video of this sermon, click here
“Small is Great” Matthew 18:1-9, 19,20; Psalm 51:17-
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Whoever humbles himself like this little child is greatest in the kingdom of heavenâ€¦If two of you agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:4.19.20)
God is not over impressed with size- whether small or large. Nothing is too large for the Creator of all and nothing is too small for Him to know and care about. No crowd is too big for the One who made 7.5 billion people. A lot of how we see is a matter of perspective. We may think Lake Murray is big until we look at Lake Michigan. We may think the earth is big until we realize the sun is 109 times bigger. We may think the sun is big until we realize the largest star we know of is 315 times bigger than the sun. We limit our knowledge when we measure from our perspective. The disciples asked who is the greatest and Jesus calls out a little child. One of the impressions we get is that bigger is better. To God it is all small. God sees the biggest star as if it were small, but God is able to see what the greatest microscope cannot see. People all matter to God as individuals.
The size of the church also does not impress God. Whether we like small churches, large churches or whatever. I remember visiting Peachtree Presbyterian, the biggest PCUSA church which had at the time 10,000 members. Then I went to Seoul South Korea and Saw the largest Presbyterian Church in the world with 100,000 members.Â But the largest church in the world has half a million and is also in Seoul.Â Jesus says it only takes two or three.Â But he didnt limit it to two or three.Â It is just more than one. There are small churches where people do not love God each other or others- it is dying. There are large churches that are dying because they have lost the love of God, each other, or neighbor.
Sometimes we get the impression that it is the big things- the most visible things, the most popular things that are the best. But I believe it is the small things that make life a little more livable. It is the meek who will inherit the earth, Jesus said. It is the humble child that we must be like to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is where two or three agree that prayers are answered, and it is where two or three are gathered that the Lord promises to be present.
THE ILLUSION OF BEING UNSEEN- There is no one who goes unseen or unknown. The smallest child, the meekest person is known by God. In some ways it is the contrite and humble in heart that God pays special attention to. If Google can see you cannot God? Do not think you can hide in a crowd. Do not think that if you are in a growing church that somehow God doesn’t care for you or that it is impossible to be loved. I have a baby granddaughter who is fascinated with Peekaboo or Pee Pie games. Studies show infants have to learn about faithfulness and constancy and that you do not really disappear when you disappear from view. But it is not as if you disappear when you cannot see yourself.
So there was a crowd around Jesus. The disciples were asking him a question, Jesus looked past them all to a quiet child and called him forward. Then he put the child among them- in other words he lifted them up so they could see the child.
God is the lifter of our heads. You may be down now, it may be hard to hold your head up- but God is the lifter of your heads.Â Maybe you feel lonely and alone. With God no one is ever alone.Â You may feel left out and despised. They tried to make Jesus feel that way when they arrested him and spit at Him.Â But you are never alone, and never too small for God to see and care about.Â A contrite heart He will not despise.Â
Zechariah (4:10) said to the people when they looked at the Temple and they were disappointed. Their expectations were not met. Their dreams were not all that they hoped they would be. He said, â€œDo not despise the day of small things. Things my look insignificant to you or even maybe to most around you- but God is significantly working. It only took 1 Messiah and 12 disciples to change the world.
WHEN SMALL BECOMES GREAT- When does small become great? When we are humble, agree, and gather together according to this passage.
1) When we are humble- Jesus had no palace or mansion, no yacht, no carriage or Cadillac-he was born in a stable and borrowed a robe. Yet He is the most famous person who ever lived. The meek indeed inherit the earth. The point in our passage about children is not that children never sin, but children are naturally powerless. They canâ€™t do much for you besides love you and ask you to help them- which is why we need to be around children. You cannot come to God unless you are humble. If you donâ€™t think you need God- if you are not humble that way- you will never know or come to Him.You cannot bow the knee to God unless you are willing to bow the head In humility. If you think you know it all- #1 you are wrong; #2 you need to know one more thing- humility is the key to life and love.
2) When we agree- To agree you have to communicate and you have to somehow be together. There is synergy that happens when we pull in the same direction. I still find it fascinating that two horses pulling together in the same direction have more energy than two horses pulling separately. That is true of humans too. Maybe you can only give $10 to the Houston flood relief. But if everyone here gives $10 that will make a huge difference and can do more than going to the store and buying $10 worth of stuff to give. When we agree- when we work together more gets done. This is a great Labor Day lesson. Staff that is always fussing, fighting and cannibalizing each other will not do much. But co-workers/students that has the common good in mind- that work and agree together can make things happen. We have a need to pray together- in small groups and in a larger group in church.I invite you to sign up for our small groups- fellowship in the fall, or a Sunday School class or circle.
When we agree in prayer He hears us. Why is this here? Can’t I just pray by myself in my room with the door closed?Â There is a place for that.Â But we are called to pray together.Â The prayer Jesus taught us to pray begins â€œOUR Fatherâ€ not My Father.Â If you want to find God- where do you find Him? Now the golfer say I find him on the golf course. The lake person says â€œI find him on the lake. It is a little ironic that our church was formed by people who were on the lake and said we need to be in church and people on the golf course who said, We need to be in church.
3) When we are together- Fellowship is important. Do not despise fellowship. The Surgeon General said in June 2016 that one of the epidemic health issues in our culture is isolation. It is caused by TVs, video games, social media and ipads and smart phones- but you are still alone. Robert Putnam of Harvard wrote a book â€œBowling Aloneâ€ in which he points out that the fastest growing sport the last twenty years is bowling and bowling alone. The Surgeon General pointed out isolation is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Get out. Make your children and youth get out. They may not feel like it- you may not feel like it. But this is what it takes to love and learn to love. Be with others- even those with whom you may disagree. Not everything will be perfect but don’t let imperfections and mistakes drive you away from God and good fellowship. Remember the words of Jesus about two special things.
So Jesus call is this- swallow your pride. Pride will keep you from loving others and being loved- and give you false demanding expectations that can never be fulfilled. Work and labor TOGETHER for the glory of God.
I like the image of the gospel that David Platt gives. “High atop the Andes mountains the sun’s rays strike ice and a single drop of water forms. It begins to trace a hesitant course downward, gradually joining with other drops of water to become a steady stream. The stream gains speed and strength. Thousands of feet below and hundreds of miles later, what were once single drops have converged to become the mightiest river on earth: The Amazon. Flowing to the Atlantic Ocean at a rate of more than seven million cubic feet per second, the Amazon is more powerful than the next ten largest rivers of the world combined. The river of life- starts with God working in each of us- small drops.Â But God’s call is for us to join together to make the river going throughout the course of the whole earth. We come together humbly, but together we can change the world and bring the water of life to it.
You cannot have communion by yourself. Communion by definition is to be done with others and with God.Â Real worship defined by Jesus is not on the golf course, bowling alley, or fishing boat by yourself. Christian worship is when two or three are gathered. Christian prayer by Christ’s definition is more effective when two or three agree. Humble togetherness is a great Christian principle- and it makes small great.