When Fred Craddock was young he remembered listening to preachers and teachers talk about what it meant to be a Christian.
He heard stories about Mother Teresa working with the poor in the slums of Calcutta. He heard about Albert Schweitzer as a medical missionary. He heard about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work in the civil rights movement.
He thought to himself, “It’s a shame you can’t be a Christian in this town. Nobody is chasing or imprisoning or killing Christians.”
In other words, he thought you could only be a Christian if you made the massive kinds of sacrifices that made the history books or the six o’clock news.
As Craddock grew, his perspective expanded.
First, Christianity is about what Jesus has done for us not what we have done for him. It’s absolutely vital that we remember that distinction.
Second, with God’s help we seek to become more like Christ. This will inevitably involve sacrifice. Some of these sacrifices are big, but some are expressed in “smaller” ways.
Is significant self-sacrifice a part of what it means to follow Jesus? Absolutely. In Mark 8:35 Jesus said: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
But our lives of sacrificial love can express themselves in meaningful moments which might not always turn heads.
Faithfulness is more important than fame. Praising God is more important than popularity.
Craddock made an analogy in financial terms. Instead of spending one big cheque with his life—i.e. instead of sacrificially expending himself all at once—he would spend 87 cents here, 21 cents there, a dollar and three cents here, and 56 cents there. He would look for meaningful and down-to-earth ways to serve, give, help or offer hope in a way that made a difference to someone he met.
Do you think you can’t make an impact as a Christian because you’ll never make it into a history book?
Think again. 87 cents here, 21 cents there…
It’s about faithfulness, not fame. Praising God, not popularity.
–*Fred Craddock, Craddock Stories (St. Louis: Chalice, 2001), 155.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.