God starts small.
Open the Bible and it's right there, small. Okay, so he created the heavens and the earth and all the animals and trees and all that. That's a lot. But he created a man and a woman. Two people. A small start to this epic story.
He calls Abram and Sarai, an older couple with no children. A small start to this epic family.
He chooses Israel to be his people, to dwell with him in his land under his rule and blessing. Former slaves, tossed back and forth by the global powers, planted in a strategic crossroads that everyone watches but no one wants to live near. A small start to this epic kingdom.
He comes as a baby, grows up in obscurity, attracts a few followers and dies. A small start to this epic identity.
He fills a rag-tag crowd with his Spirit, makes a few promises, gives a few commands and then unleashes them on the world and the gates of hell. 500 people, max. A small start to this epic movement.
God starts small. And so must we.
If you want to change the world, do something epic, present "a credible witness," start small.
Start where you are.
You don't have to move. You don't have to leave. You don't have to uproot and displace and sell all your stuff and scare your parents. Not yet, at least. Start where you are. You are already in a neighborhood. Love your neighbor.
In 1 John 4:19ff, the apostle uses this train of logic:
If you don't love your brother,
whom you have seen,
you can't love God,
whom you have not seen.
(I wondered if John just didn't know that it's because I do see them and see them avoiding me at Wal-Mart that I struggle to love my brothers and sisters in Christ...until I realized that he's reshaping our use of the word "love")
I'd like to apply John's logic to Brenda's talk and the "we must start where we are" idea:
If you don't love your neighbor,
whose loud iTunes playlist you have heard,
you can't love God,
whose iTunes playlist you have not yet heard.
And maybe this works too:
if you don't love and serve your near neighbor,
whom you can love and serve with very little sacrifice and discomfort,
you can't love and serve your far neighbor,
whom you cannot love and serve without much sacrifice and discomfort.
(Of course, this requires reshaping our use of the words "love" and "serve").
So, here's the secret: start small. "Here" is small. "Now" is small. "With what you've got" is small. Start small.
You want to develop a credible witness? Start here and now and with what you've got. Start small.