Imagine getting a Scrabble tray with the following letters:
Wow! All the highest-scoring letters! You’ll surely win this time!
Except there are a couple of problems.
First, there are no vowels. You’d only be able to play off vowels in your opponent’s words.
And most words are not made up of just the high-point letters. Usually you have to combine them with an ordinary D or T or N.
Too, I’ve often found that the words that use all the tiles and earn bonus points are most often made up of the more common letters.
Life is like that with people, too. The ones out front or with heavy responsibilities don’t operate alone. Stars have their publicists, make-up crew and stylists, agents, drivers. Executives have administrative assistants, mailroom workers, technicians. Presidents have cabinets, advisors, security details. Mills, factories, and manufacturers are mostly made up of everyday workers. Every company has those who keep the premises hygienic and pleasant by keeping it clean.
Have you noticed this principle in the Bible as well? Moses had Aaron and Hur. David had his mighty men. Elijah thought he was alone standing against the prophets of Baal, but God had 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to a false god. The obscure names among Jesus’ twelve closest followers were just as much disciples as Peter, James, and John.
Besides the Bible heroes we all know and love, lesser-known servants of God played key roles. A little servant girl told Naaman about the prophet in Israel who could heal him of leprosy. Unnamed prophets appear in only one scene, but deliver vital messages. “A certain man drew his bow at random” and killed King Ahab, one of Israel’s wickedest rulers. A woman only known as a Shunammite provided a respite for the prophet Elisha in his travels. A little boy gave his lunch of loaves and fishes to Jesus, who multiplied them to feed a multitude. “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for” Jesus and the disciples “out of their means” alongside Mary Magdalene. Paul’s nephew brought news of an ambush planned against Paul, prompting his guards to beef up security.
Everyone has an important part to play in God’s kingdom, whether it’s a large or small part. If we envy another’s role, we forget they have their own set of problems and temptations. If we’re discontent with our role, we forget God sees and values it.
Have you ever had one tiny cog mess up a machine’s functions? A few wrong keystrokes in computer code can throw a whole program off. A little virus can wreak havoc in computers and bodies and communities. One person not doing their job right in the process of bringing a product to market can cause the end product to fail or even be unsafe. One customer service representative can make the difference in solving or causing problems, in our relief or frustrations with a company. One kind greeting at church can make a visitor feel welcome. One word of encouragement can change someone’s outlook.
The Bible uses the metaphor of the body to describe the church in 1 Corinthians 12:14-31. The body has a number of parts, but all are important. This passage has us imagine how ridiculous it would be if the whole body were an eye–how would it eat or walk or speak? Equally ridiculous is the thought of doing without one member or another. One part can’t say it doesn’t need another. Each part working together with the others helps the body function rightly, which aids all the parts. Ephesians 4:1-16 uses the same imagery, closing with, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” I’ve spoken of not thinking less of ourselves if we don’t have a big role to play, but Romans 12, also speaking of the church as a body, warns “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (verse 3). There is no room for pride or discouragement with God’s giftings. But “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” for His honor and glory and for the good of the rest of the body (Romans 12:6). We can be content in the place He has us.
My grandfather used to say, “God must love common folk, He made so many of us.” Sometimes God pushes us out of our comfort zones, like Moses, Jonah, Gideon, Esther, and others. But most of us won’t be the mega-best-selling author, the speaker followed by the masses, the hero about whom epics are written. Yet we can glorify God in our homes, churches, cars, businesses, neighborhoods. In fact, back to our Scrabble analogy, if we’re an N or T or an I, we can be used more often and in more places than a Q.
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