We live in a world that is looking out for #1. Looking to get what we “deserve.”
Looking out for #1 means we constantly need the world to tell us we’re the best, we’re the smartest, we’re okay. And to be okay, to hack it in this Darwinian environment, we deserve more money, a bigger house, more Twitter followers – to demonstrate we matter. To maintain our “position” in the world’s hierarchy.
As Marilyn Roelse and I serve here in Tanzania we are reminded of the unnoticed Kingdom work going on that few hear about.
No video of the missionaries here will go viral on YouTube. Ann Curry won’t be interviewing the Pastor who’s been planting seeds of the Gospel here in the middle of nowhere. And People magazine isn’t clamoring for photos of simple people doing the simple work of spreading the love of Jesus.
In fact, there is zero attention. Zero salary increases for the work. And yes, sometimes, seemingly zero “results.”
Last week we volunteered out in Magugu, a largely Muslim town here in Tanzania and met Pastor Ezekiel, a pastor with a congregation of 15 people.
15 people after 20 years of service.
Trying to calculate the ROI on that? There isn’t any. Except one.
Christina is disabled; a death sentence here in Tanzania. Her family discarded Christina’s body on the side of a dirt road to let fate decide what should happen next. Finding her unprotected, predatory men found Christina and abused her sexually, leaving her sitting in a pile of her own waste when the missionaries finally found her.
Christina is recovering from her past because she found a future in the power of Jesus’ embrace. And she found her way to this power because Pastor Ezekiel decided that His work didn’t need human attention to matter.
The Gospel has a vastly different message than the world’s.
A message that says we are not to look out for #1. But to look out for coming in last. Not to be served but to serve. Not to seek the world’s acclaim, but to quietly and faithfully honor our Lord, just as Pastor Ezekiel is doing with his 15 congregants. To acknowledge that what we “deserve” isn’t more money or more applause, but death because of our sins.
It is by grace we have been saved. It is by grace that we have not been given what we deserve but so much more.
More acclaim will not tell us we’re okay because deep down we know that the acclaim of the world won’t last.
There will be new causes, new celebrities, new focal points for People magazine to cover. The only acclaim we can seek is that of the Lord. The Lord who reaches down to Pastor Ezekiel and the missionaries of Magugu and says, “well done good and faithful servant.” The Lord who reminds us of our call to be faithful, not necessarily successful, in our endeavors as offered unto Him.
Feeling under-appreciated as you labor at your desk today? Undervalued in your relationships? Unnoticed by those around you?
Take heart. God sees your heart. Be faithful. Work as unto Him. And remember that the ROI we’re seeking is eternal.