I spent an afternoon out in the sticks this week. Our friends have a farm that is approached via narrow potholed country lanes, which fortunately (or unfortunately perhaps) do not seem to deter townies like me from visiting. I had never thought of myself as a townie until it came up in conversation on the farm. I live in a small country town in a very rural county, but I grew up in a tiny island with stunningly beautiful beaches that still take my breath away. The funny thing is that city folk seem to believe that those who dwell in the shires are all farmers, while the farmers consider everyone with a next-door neighbour to be a townie! My kids have often been nicknamed ‘farmer’ by city kids when they have gone away to summer camp. But we are not farmers, we just have to deal with the mud they leave all over our roads!
Perception is a strange thing. Most people these days will walk past a church and perceive that it is not for them. They may consider churchgoers as strange, while the churchgoing fraternity often doesn’t have a clue about the people who walk past on the pavement (sidewalk) every day. I look out from our church foyer when I am duty deacon during a Sunday service, and passers-by look in. What do I see? What do they see?
The townie tag got me thinking about how we see ourselves. It is as easy to inflate our own importance as it is to underestimate our gifts and abilities. What we think about ourselves is less important than what we perceive that God thinks of us. Perhaps that is the problem for most of the pavement travellers who pass by church on a Sunday morning? If they realised God loved them without condition and beyond measure would it make a difference, or is the church the stumbling block? Has it made a difference to us and enabled us to see ourselves as God does? If it has then surely the difference is that we should be different? So different to others that they can’t help but stop and ask what it is about us. If you don’t know how God sees you then spend some time alone with Him and find out. You may need a box of tissues close at hand.
What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)