There was a time when one mattered. Globalization may have changed all of that. One seems almost insignificant in a world of 6,000,000,000 souls, a universe that measures but a span to God. Once in a while, when we're feeling a little too big for our breaches we need to look at life through the panorama of time and space and realize that we are but a speck in the schemata of history. Even in the BIble our lives are portrayed as dew, vapor, the grass that withers, a blip on the scope of time. Yet, Scripture also speaks of the power of one, how one solitary life can matter and how even one small person can totally alter the face of civilization or shift the mores of culture. The list is long, the individuals whose vision or effort or single-minded determination have influenced millions. Small we may be. But, insignificant, never! There is the power of one.
A flocking mentality seems to define things these days. Huge is in. People love a crowded restaurant, will stand or idle the car in a long queue, and think faith can only happen where large crowds appear. Lost in the wilderness of people is how the woman at the well influenced her entire village, the image of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to go in search of the one, Simon Peter's catalytic impact on the crowds gathered for Pentecost, Noah preaching for 120 years, the lonely solitude of the Prophets, and the powerful promise of God to the individuals He called and empowered to speak for Him, the one that is repeated so often, "I am with you", or "I will be with you".
Surely the lonely are gathered into families, believers are miraculously and providentially formed into a supernatural body called the church, Jesus trained twelve, spoke often to multitudes, taught large crowds of people. Underneath the corporate expressions of faith is the thoroughly Biblical ideal of one, the value of one human life, the power of one witness, the belief that one person can make a difference.
Along with the group dynamics of contemporary faith, we must muddle through the layers of complexity that attends many minds and perspectives as well. So, big often translates to complicated. How often have change agents used the turning of an ocean-liner to illustrate the difficulty of institutional change? Such is the dilemma of the institutional church these days. How do we reverse troubling trend lines? How can denominational declines be corrected in such a vast structure?
Surely, it is too obvious, the power of one! Maybe the final answer isn't discovered in revised corporate policies or mission statements. Maybe the way out of the quagmire is more basic and simpler than big decisions and programs being generated by a small number of constituents. Maybe it's the power of one thing all over again, the "each one reach one" mentality that used to fuel our enterprise.
There's a dark side to the power of one! It is personal accountability. Crowds and groups and masses of people and large meetings is a good place to hide. When theres a gang of people, you can always point to everyone else as the culprit for whatever woes are troubling us. When we place the burden on the shoulders of every individual, well, the accountability thing gets a little uncomfortable. And, who are you to judge me anyway!
I'm thinking a true resurgence is a movement of one. I'm praying for the courage to pray, "OK, Lord! You can start right here!"