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Little things make a big difference

By Bishop Jonathan Holston

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. 

In a past issue of the Upper Room devotional, the editor shared an excerpt from the article, Little Things Make a BIG Difference. 

Norwegian inventor John Vaaler patented the paper clip in 1899. For 114 years, the paper clip has had one singular purpose: to clip paper. Whether it is a multimillion dollar contract, a brilliant thesis, a global treaty or a student s homework assignment, the paper clip never loses its purpose “ to clip paper.

Likewise, in a seminar for pastors and lay persons, Bishop Lindsey Davis shared an address that spoke to congregations finding their singular purpose for ministry. Sharing a story from an earlier pastorate, Bishop Davis canvassed the community of his new assignment. He was startled with the response; namely, That s the church with the beautiful stained glass windows.  There was no mention of its worship services or ministry to the community. Only a comment related to its windows.

During the year, the local hospital expressed a need for stuffed animals. These teddy bears of all shapes, sizes and colors would be given to children admitted to the hospital or brought to the emergency room for care. Through his leadership, the congregation leaped into action. They established a teddy bear collection never before experienced in the community. It was a rousing success.  Soon after, Bishop Davis recalled a visit to the grocery store. After inviting the store manager to Sunday worship, she responded, That s the church that gives teddy bears to the little children! 

What a difference. The stained glass windows were still beautiful, but the church had discovered its singular purpose. The congregation found a ministry that transcended its windows.

Recently, while searching through boxes of family pictures and documents, I found a booklet saved from our son s time at the U.S. Naval Academy. It was a booklet titled Faith Points for Protestant Midshipman  given to him by a Navy chaplain. Within its pages was devotional material that was helpful to his growth spiritually.

As I read some of the passages, I found a few statements helpful to all of us. Inspirational quotes such as taking the time to maintain a healthy spiritual life through regular worship, prayer, study, and fellowship with God s people will pay dividends  are words of motivation for anyone. The booklet reveals truths that are evident; namely, that life is a challenging race requiring endurance and faith “ faith in Jesus Christ.

It is the singular purpose that the writer of Hebrews 12 indicates is necessary for continued growth both morally and spiritually. First, we must remove hindrances; let us lay aside every weight (Hebrews 12:1). Second, we must reject entanglement; lay aside ¦ the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). Third, we must enlarge our vision by keeping our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

Like the paper clip, the teddy bear church or the Faith Points  booklet, when we are true to the mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world, we discover our singular purpose. We lay aside weights and entanglements to enlarge a vision that propels us to grow in a faith that translates our beliefs into action.

When the story of our faith follows the path of our commitments, little things make a big difference.

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