Summary: Suffering from an inferiority complex? The same God who is a work in the lives of others desires to make your impossibilities possible. Let’s learn from the early church how to prayerfully encounter the living God!
Two cows were standing in a field saw a milk truck pass by. The truck had painted in large letters on its side, “Prairie Farms Milk –– Homogenized –– Sanitized –– Vitamin Enriched” One cow spoke up and said, “Makes me feel kind of inferior!”
I’m sure that none of us have ever felt inferior feeling as though we just don’t measure up; everyone else is better than we are. I know you would never feel that way, but you can pray for me because I have had those inferior feelings. I’ve found myself at gatherings with other pastors and thought to myself, “who am I kidding; I’ll never be as good as they are? Their churches are bigger and better; our church would be growing too if I only had their staff–a youth pastor . . . a children’s pastor . . . a music minister.” I could go on and on. When I would start thinking like that, I became overwhelmed and convinced that I’m a failure.
I’m sure I must be the only one like that here this morning, so I guess the preacher will have to preach to himself today–wrong! How many of you have ever found yourself feeling like me? We have all found ourselves feeling like those cows, beaten down and not good enough.
We share a common problem with those Holsteins. We all have a limited perspective. Those dairy cows failed to see that the shiny milk truck that made them feel inferior had just left the milk house next to the barn where they were milked each day. The milk that they thought was so much better than theirs was in fact their milk! Likewise, our perspective needs adjusted. It’s not how great others are compared to how small we may feel. We need to learn to see what God is doing in and through His church. The same God who is working mightily through others desires to work mightily through us as well. It’s time for us to prayerfully encounter the living God!
Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (The Message). How many need to be together for Jesus to be present? It doesn’t require a big crowd; it’s not when thousands gather, but just two or three. This tells me something about Jesus’ heart; His desire is to be with His people. Jesus doesn’t make the requirements hard to fulfil. Jesus affirms the gathering of only two or three who acknowledge Him by showing up as well.
When we gather together as the church, the power and presence of God should be experienced; it is a reality taking place even at this moment! However, all too often we miss the presence of God when we are together. Our perspective is off. In those times we can be preoccupied with other things, people–family and friends; crises–problems and difficulties; calendars–plans and vacations. We miss an encounter with the living God, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
How can we experience God’s manifold presence with us? As we are gathered here today, how can we know beyond just a head knowledge that the living God is right here with us? When two or three of us get together in our homes, or if we meet with a friend for lunch, or if we only happen to meet by chance, how can we discern the reality of Jesus being with us?
Do you know what is meant by the “manifold presence of God?” Manifold means having many and various forms or features; it is multifaceted. It simply means that God’s presence can be experienced in many different and unique ways. Experiencing the presence of God is not boring or a rerun of the same thing over and over. We can discover God being with us in new, fresh and exciting ways.
An ordinary gathering can have extraordinary possibilities when we recognize that the presence of Jesus is with us. It is my prayer that we encounter the living God not just within the confines of a Sunday morning worship service, but that we discover God’s presence and power is with us even at work or play making the impossible possible– transforming the inferior to superior!
Turn with me to Acts 4:23-31. We find here a church facing difficulties; this is a church who had their pastors arrested! If ever there was a church that should have an inferiority complex this is it; the church has no religious or political power; they don’t have anything that we would think it takes to be successful. These folks were facing all kinds of problems, but they didn’t let external difficulties keep them from encountering the living God. They believed that God would in fact meet them right where they were.