Picture; Small

It was a Monday, it was hot. I was just leaving my office after a good day. It was nice to have a good day, if we don't have those once in a while we just all go insane. I was about to leave to go pick-up my wife so we could spend the rest of our night eating pizza and watching movies to celebrate mothers day with my mother-in-law at her parents house. I got in my truck and was just tuning in my iPod for the short drive home. I figured that today felt a little bit like a sermon day so as I scrolled through my podcasts and found Erwin McManus, a very well known and respected pastor in the Los Angeles area.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot I rolled down my windows, despite the heat, for some reason I've always preferred my windows down no matter how hot or cold the outside temperature is. As I rolled them down a woman who had just walked in front of my truck on the sidewalk looked backwards and very friendly said "you wouldn't happen to have $0.50 for the bus would you?" Reluctantly i answered "no" even though that was a total lie, but we've always been told not to give people on the street money right? I asked her where she had to walk to and she answered "all the way to f***ing Clovis", which is a neighboring town, just down the road. We said "goodbye" and I continued driving home.

All the way home verses that I had read and memorized multiple times are running through my head. Verses like James 2:14-16 "What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?" I felt guilty, I wanted so bad to turn my truck around and go giver her a ride. Sure $0.50 would've been nice to give her, but Christ also commands us to go a second mile when someone requests you go only 1. If we continue to read on in James we would all realize that faith=actions, lack of actions=no faith, at least faith that cannot save anyone.

At this point, I'm already feeling pretty bad, not bad enough to turn my truck around and go pick her up, but bad none-the-less. Then my head begins to take me through Mathew 25:34-40: "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

I actually passed up Jesus asking me for bus money. I felt so guilty the rest of the night, I never actually had the courage to turn around, pick up this woman who needed a ride to a place near my house on a day when the temperature was topping out at 103 degrees. I didn't even have the courage to turn around and hand her $0.50 and then make an excuse like "I found some".

As a pastor that is part of a team of pastors at a well-known mega-church, we constantly push our congregation to be Jesus to their neighbors, truly love their neighbors, serve others and comfort them when they are in a dark place. All this, yet I didn't do it when the opportunity was knocking, knocking very loudly. Pastors are great at seeing the big picture, we create visions and execute them with our people, yet that day, I missed the small picture. I think they call these people hypocrites.

We can see the big picture all we want, we can continuously ask the questions of what Jesus wants of our church, we can discuss theology and what it means to be emergent and missional and truly imitate Christ, but if all this talking doesn't lead us as individuals and communities to be a part of the small picture and be part of it often, all we are doing is actually..well...worthless.

I challenge you to look for and be a part of the rhythm of change in the small pictures. If we change enough small pictures, we sure as hell will change the big picture.


  1. Bro,

    I have had moments like this that i regret... missed opportunities to love Jesus through loving the 'least of these.' But, even when we have missed a chance to do good; if we recognize the error of our way, we then have been given another chance to tell others about not making the same mistakes we have.

    I am currently reading a book called "The Art of Reading Scripture." I just finished a chapter that compared Jesus to St Francis. What was awesome about this chapter was that it challenged the bible student to translate the text in how we live our lives. In other words, we can exegete passages and come up with deep insights... but the deepest insights of all come from examples of all are those people who took a 'naive' and literal love for the text and embodied it, in order to transform the world around them. What a challenge it is to live this out in our regular and comfortable lives!

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  3. Hey Jeff, this is powerfull little story... like what "groans from within" said there are many moments in all our lives that we regret... like you, I am a big picture person and it is a great encouragement to me to think about being involved in the small picture.

    Also, great job on Sunday. You really are growing into your own. God Bless!