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Your Jesus is Too Small

It’s a hidden little story in the midst of the grand narrative of royal David. The one destined to occupy the throne is running from its current tenant, King Saul. Samuel had anointed the youngest son of Jesse – the forgotten son – the next leader. Until then, the king elect waited…and waited…and waited some more.

We find David hiding in a cave when we read: “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:2). What a motley crew (not Mötley Crüe, the awesome ‘90s band). Wouldn’t you choose a better entourage for the future king?

David’s entourage:

Those in danger? Check!

Those in debt? Check!

Those who were angry? Check!

Not exactly the merry travelers I would have selected! In case you’re wondering, I would choose Alexander Hamilton, Michel Jordan, Lorne Michaels, and John Wesley. Certainly not these guys. That said, it worked out alright for David’s peeps.

Later we discover that found among this “island of misfit toys” was:

  • Benaiah – who killed the giant of the Egyptians with only a staff and killed another solider by wrestling away his spear and stabbing him with it – later, when threatened by a lion, climbed into a lion’s den and killed it
  • Eleazar – he attacked a large formation of Philistines and sent them into retreat
  • Jashobeam – killed 300 Philistines with a single spear
  • Benaiah –

Surprised? I was. Why this group? Why that person?

Actually, this is a question I ask myself everyday. Why me; why you; why anybody? I have noticed that God frequently uses the most available not the most gifted. God then gifts the most available. These guys were, well, just guys. Nothing special about them other than God used them in the world – God’s world. Why are we so surprised?

I think it comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of how spiritual gifts work. We tend to think there is a distinction between the secular and the sacred, but this is a distinction the Bible does not make. To think that God is more willing to gift people for work in a church than for work in an elementary school, government building, or coffee shop is to forget the vastness of Jesus’ dominion.

God’s work in and through people is about being available. Again, when you look at how God worked throughout the Bible, you see that God didn’t use the most gifted, he used the most available. Who did David and Jesus empower for ministry? Messy people. It’s a reminder that God uses ordinary people to change the world in extraordinary ways. Have you disqualified yourself? God hasn’t. You were created for God, redeemed by Jesus, empowered through the Spirit for God’s work in God’s world. Maybe you have forgotten how big your Jesus is.

Chris Lawson

Founder of, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

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