I wrote some years ago about fractals, objects that are similar whether viewed on large scale or a small scale. For example, the way trees branch is the same whether you look at a whole tree or just a small portion of the branch. They are ‘self-similar across scales’, which is to say, fractal.
Everything is infinitely small compared to God so (to God) the pattern presumably matters more than the size.
So it isn’t surprising that fractal behaviour crops up whenever we consider God at work. Parables–picturing God at work–are self-similar across scales. Is the parable of the sower about the history of nations? Or of a single small tribe? Or of a single human heart? It’s self-similar across scales, so it applies equally to all of them.
Faithfulness is fractal. If you are faithful in a little thing, you will be entrusted with much. One who is faithful in small things will be understood to be faithful in big things too. The pattern is the thing; the size doesn’t much matter in the eyes of God.
This is a stunning fact when you hold it up against our desires for prestige or respect or generally just to be associated with big stuff. Two things stand out to me, one of them relevant to this advent season.
- The young woman caring for the infant Jesus, wiping his bum, burping him, rocking him to sleep, was supplying exactly the faithfulness needed at that moment; enough faithfulness to save a whole Universe.
- Our smallest faithful actions shine out in God’s eyes like stars– a secret of a life of patient revolution.