At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word was addressed to Jeremiah by the Lord, ‘The Lord says this: Stand in the court of the Temple of the Lord. To all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the Temple of the Lord you must speak all the words I have commanded you to tell them; do not omit one syllable. Perhaps they will listen and each turn from his evil way: if so, I shall relent and not bring the disaster on them which I intended for their misdeeds. Say to them, “The Lord says this: If you will not listen to me by following my Law which I put before you, by paying attention to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send so persistently to you, without your ever listening to them, I will treat this Temple as I treated Shiloh, and make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.”’
The priests and prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah say these words in the Temple of the Lord. When Jeremiah had finished saying everything that the Lord had ordered him to say to all the people, the priests and prophets seized hold of him and said, ‘You shall die! Why have you made this prophecy in the name of the Lord, “This Temple will be like Shiloh, and this city will be desolate, and uninhabited”?’ And the people were all crowding round Jeremiah in the Temple of the Lord.
Coming to his home town, Jesus taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?’ And they would not accept him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country and in his own house’, and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
“Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
The much-anticipated (at least in Singapore) movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is coming out in less than two weeks. If you’ve read the book on which the movie is based, you’ll know that this is a story of a Chinese-American girl meeting her boyfriend’s Singapore-based family for the first time, and, unbeknownst to her, he is from one of the richest families in Singapore. The book is littered with descriptions of a life of excess and material wealth, and how the protagonist tries to deal with the upper-class snobbery that comes her way. Everything about her and her background gets scrutinized to microscopic detail – her upbringing, her background, her beauty, financial standing, education – and she finds few allies and a lot of criticism.
That is probably snobbery at the extreme, but the fact is this — our opinion of a person or thing is formed within 5 seconds or less of an encounter. Our environment influences our opinions so that we form ideas about something based on associated factors, e.g. if clothes look dirty, we assume that it would be smelly too. If someone is smart, we assume he or she is a degree-holder and learned. Sometimes, the unexpected takes us by surprise. The small guy is strong, the tradesman is wise, the shepherd’s son is king. God uses the unexpected and humble to show us that great things too can come out of them. If He were to operate like how we do with our pre-conceived notions, then Jesus would not have been born in the lowliest of circumstances, in a manger surrounded by farm animals. He would have been born into a high-ranking family with an army at his command. David the shepherd-boy would not have been king, and a mightier, swashbuckling prince on a steed would have been the one to slay Goliath instead. Moses and Aaron would have confronted Pharaoh with a flaming, jewel-encrusted sword instead of a simple wooden staff. Why can’t the same potential come from the most unexpected of places?
On the flipside, our own myopia about others blinds us to our own abilities too. My friends, we are better than we believe ourselves to be. We think we need this and that to be better — more experience, a PhD, an MBA, a job with an investment bank. Yes, some of these things do help, but the lack of it does not write you off as incapable or without potential. We are the ‘small things’ that God uses to bring forth His bigger plan. There is wonder yet to be wrought from us, but only if we do not remain small-minded, and be open to the possibilities that can be worked through us by God. We too can be that carpenter’s son.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, we are small indeed. We are a grain of sand in a sea of people. Yet each of us have the might and potential to be something bigger than ourselves. Help us to look within ourselves, and not judge our own selves based on our circumstances or other people’s comments and perceptions.
Thanksgiving: As the oak tree springs forth from a small acorn, so too can we achieve the same heights. Thank you Lord, for reminding us about this in the world around us.