Thursday, April 02, 2015

Is Less...More?

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ (‭Judges‬ ‭7‬:‭2‬ NIV)

How can you have too many men to fight in a war? Especially when the enemy has more armed men and camels than you count. Especially when they've been oppressing you for years because of their strength--and because your own God is against you.

Yet that's exactly what God tells Gideon here.

The Lord culls Gideon's army down from 32,000 to 300. After all, we wouldn't want to get in each other's way when we fight.

This is how the Lord does things.

We think bigger is better. Not God.

Why does God do this? So that he gets the credit he deserves and we don't let it go to our heads as if we were the ones who pulled off the great victory.

God is all about his glory. Not because he's some egomaniac. He actually IS the greatest being in and beyond all of creation. It's more than appropriate that we worship him.

We NEED to worship him. It keeps us grounded in healthy perspective. One way God does this is limiting how we do things; causing us to do things that make it obvious that success wasn't because of us--but God.


I tend to think "more is better" a lot. When I was a youth pastor, I tried to get as many kids on the bus to camp as possible. I'd do financial gymnastics to help a kid afford the trip. I'd use my best persuasion to convince them that they'd have a blast if they went. I'd beg parents to let their kids go. Because more is always better (or so I thought).

But, what I'm learning in church ministry and in making disciples is, less is usually more. In fact, more is often worse--not better.

Jesus operated along these lines. He would speak to thousands at a time. And the crowds kept growing until he intentionally taught messages designed to thin the crowd. (ex. John 6)

Jesus spent the bulk of his three years of ministry investing in his disciples. (some estimate he spent 80% of his time with the Twelve) Mostly he was the Twelve but it probably included about a hundred disciples. At one point he sends out 72 disciples (besides the Twelve and he) in pairs to make disciples in the towns of Galilee.

Jesus' key leaders were the Twelve. And out of this group he invested the most in Peter, Andrew, James and John. They led the early church.

Sometimes God says I want you to cull down the number of people you're trying to disciple (aka go to battle with). Trust that when they are properly discipled they'll do what you modeled for them and growth will come--exponentially.

Jesus sure proved this to be true. Perhaps it's time we stop trying to justify ourselves with numbers in the short-term. Let's do this like Jesus did. Then, when the numbers or results do skyrocket, God will get the glory--as he should.

What is God saying to you?

What are you doing about it?