Study Guide: [Feeling Insignificant] Happens

Sunday March 20, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Most of us grew up wanting to be a superstar of some kind, whether it was an athlete, performer, or war hero. However, as we grow older, we recognize that we might be more ordinary than we thought. Yet, God wants us to know exactly how significant we are.

Extended Summary:

Think back a ways to when you were a kid. Do you remember what dreams you had of growing up? Do you remember in what ways you wanted to be a superstar? This is part of our wiring and how we were created, because God created us to be his images in this world. We were meant to shine and be significant. However, in this fallen world, we find that this purpose to shine has been warped to something called the lie of acquired significance. This lie says that we have to do something or achieve something in order to be significant, and this goes directly against what God says our significance is.

This goes back to the Garden with Adam and Eve, where the serpent deceives them into thinking that if they do something, eating from the tree, then they will be wise and, in turn, become significant compared with God. Ever since, we’ve been trying to fill the void of how to be significant in this world. We dream as children of how we’ll be significant, and by the time we reach adulthood, most of us come to the realization that we won’t do anything that is considered significant in the world’s eyes. Our “lucky break” doesn’t happen.

This realization is the crap of insignificance that happens in our lives. We feel that we don’t matter because our dreams as a child were never fulfilled. We feel like we didn’t make a difference and that we don’t matter. Where we once thought we would be a beautiful dancer, now we are a 34 year old check out clerk with a grouchy boss. Where we once thought we would get a great job and travel the world, we now are living paycheck to paycheck with no thoughts on how to get out. The crap of insignificance is a feeling of emptiness, lost opportunity, and apathy about life.

However, God’s good news says that we are significant, and it’s not something that we can acquire or achieve. It’s the truth that we already have more significance, meaning, and worth than we can possibly comprehend. It’s the truth that we’ve had that significance before we ever became Christians. While the coin was still lost, it was significant to God. It’s so significant, that he searches high and low for it, and rejoices when it is found. It’s the truth that we were meant to be superstars in a radically unique way when we receive God’s grace and reflect God’s love. This is real significance, as it is not something we achieve, but something given to us by God. Everything else falls short of this significance.

In this parable, the necklace represent something more than monetary value. It was a gift to the woman, of deep personal meaning. It represented all of her hopes and dreams, and she had to find it. We are God’s coin. We are deeply personal to God, and he has to find us. We are that significant to him. The coin does nothing to earn this significance, and neither do we. We simply are significant to God.

God does want us to get out of bondage to sin, but whether we succeed or fail, our significance doesn’t change. He wants us to get out of bondage so that we can realize who we really are and shine in that reality, but whether we succeed or fail, our significance doesn’t change. Don’t try to be a superstar, simply be the one that God already created you to be. Imagine Jesus telling you exactly who you are, and make that the benchmark of significance in your life.

(During the sermon, Greg mentioned a handout that includes a list of “I Am” statements. The list is available in the PDF version of the [Crap] Happens booklet and also as an individual download. Find both of those on our [Crap] Happens series page.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. What were your hopes and dreams as a child? Did you achieve all of them? Did you feel less significant when you didn’t achieve them?
  3. Do you think the lie of acquired significance applies to your life? In what ways?
  4. In light of the parable of the lost coin, how might you redefine significance from your child dreams?
  5. Do the imagination exercise at the end of the sermon again. In what ways can you remind yourself of who you really are? In what ways can you remind those closest to you of who they really are?