The world we live in seems to celebrate success. In fact, the most successful people are sometimes referred to as celebrities. These tend to be individuals who are known and loved by countless fans. Their social media posts may receive millions of “likes,” and their opinions seem to sway the attitudes of the masses.
For every superstar, however, there are millions of individuals whom some may refer to as ordinary people. The extraordinary thing about ordinary people is that each one is unique. Every individual who has ever lived or lives now was created by God. No one is a mistake, and no one is without purpose and meaning. God created every person, including you and me, for some very good reasons.
The first reason can be found in the first commandment. We’re told in Matthew 22:37 that we were created to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. This goes against our fallen human nature which urges us to love ourselves above all else. One benefit of loving God with everything we are is the realization we gain that life is far greater than just us. Knowing and loving the God who created the universe and everything within it opens our eyes to a glorious world full of meaning, purpose, and mystery.
One of life’s mysteries involves finding out who we are in God’s grand scheme. Some individuals seem to know this without question. They strongly sense the purpose for which they were created, and they strive with all they have to fulfill it. Many others, however, are not quite sure why they’re here, and what God would have them do. This can be frustrating and confusing.
One way to deal with this frustration is to focus on the general will of God. We already know that we were created to love God. Having this as our primary purpose in life gives meaning to everything else. No matter what you do in life, if loving God comes first everything else is secondary. Speaking of secondary, we see in Matthew 22:39 that the second commandment is for us to love others. This is where life gets really interesting.
As we seek to love others, sometimes we might be tempted to compare ourselves with super successful Christians. Those who stand out and are known by many seem to have such a large impact. At times it may seem like we don’t measure up, and that therefore something might be wrong with us. I suspect that this is a result of our modern culture.
Individuals and companies that are big and well known seem to get all the attention. The “Mom and Pop” store that stood on the corner for over sixty years is no longer there. It’s been replaced by a franchised fast-food place. And yet, something that took place within small stores like that seems to be largely absent from our lives today. I’m referring to a simple, ordinary, unglamorous thing known as a relationship between one person and another.
As we live our lives focused on loving God and loving others, we start to notice individuals. We see them as individuals rather than as stereotypical representatives of one group or another. As we navigate the world, the Lord will bring individual people into our path. As he does so, we have the opportunity to build a relationship. This is the recipe for impact.
There are some people who lived their entire lives, established only a handful of close relationships, and yet who had a tremendous impact on the world for God. In fact, if every person invested in a meaningful relationship with just two others, and those two went on to do the same, the impact would be enormous. In such circumstances math takes over and multiplication begins.
What made me think about this was reading the parable found in Mark 4:30-32. In the ESV is reads:
With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.
Under the right conditions, one small seed planted in the ground can grow to become a tree. It goes on to produce seeds of its own. If just two of those seeds are somehow carried away and find themselves in the right conditions, they go on to do the same.
So what does this mean for us? As we love God and seek to love others, there’s a good chance that we’ll have the opportunity to begin meaningful relationships with others. We may never become well known, and few may ever like our social media posts, yet God can take what we pour into a few relationships and use it to impact thousands of lives. May he do so for his glory!