Riding along in my automobile (as the song goes) I found myself listening to Rebecca Adlington’s retirement interview. Alongside all of the normal stuff about thanking her family and coaches for the support she was given during her illustrious career she made the following ‘theological’ point: ‘if I could help just one person to get into the water I would be so happy.’
It strikes me that her comment, whilst carrying a ‘theological’ connotation is also highly counter-cultural. In modern society we are not used to working in units of one. Small scale incremental growth is not acceptable to a society conditioned to think that more is better. In today’s world the bigger the number, the more impressive. Sadly this mode of thinking frequently pervades church life.
Yet both Jesus and Mother Theresa make it clear that Christianity, with its unconditional regard for each individual, should be content, no joyful, with making a real and salvific difference to just one person. Christianity at its core seeks to change lives one-by-one and this was something Mother Theresa believed profoundly. Malcolm Muggeridge in Something Beautiful for God summarised Mother Theresa’s theology as follows:
‘Christianity is not a statistical view of life. That there should be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over all the host of the just is an anti statistical proposition. Likewise the work of the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Theresa is fond of saying that welfare is for a purpose – an admirable and necessary one – whereas Christian love is for a person. The one is about numbers, the other about man who was also God.’
Jesus, Mother Theresa and Rebecca Adlington appear to be on to something. Go on, just like them, think small.
Are we enslaved by a paradigm that values all things big?
Are we missing the ‘little picture’?