- Book Reviews
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 : By Standing for Freedom Staff
No Little People is a collection of 16 sermons given by author, teacher, and theologian, Francis A. Schaeffer, at L’Abri Fellowship, a community in Switzerland founded by Shaeffer and his wife, Edith. These sermons were preached over the course of the 27 years that the Schaeffers ministered at L’Abri, which was not only their home but also a forum for travelers to discuss and explore truth from the perspective of biblical Christianity.
Each of the 16 sermons covers a different topic, ranging from how God works in the lives of Christians to examinations of Biblical figures like Joseph and David to studies of Christmas and the Book of Revelation. In the book’s introduction, Shaeffer recommends reading one sermon at each sitting and reading sermons aloud for Bible studies, family devotions, or in churches without pastors. The sermons are meaty, in-depth, and convicting, typical of Schaeffer’s teaching style, and are filled with practical application for the daily struggles of the Christian walk.
“There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people” is the quote from the book that best summarizes this collection of sermons. Each has distinct value and contains insightful wisdom and biblical foundation as is common to Schaeffer’s work, each pointing to Christ and exemplifying God’s ability to use those willing to be molded for His Glory.
While each sermon is powerful and impactful in its own right, some teachings do stand out as exemplary snapshots of Schaeffer’s teaching and writing.
The first sermon, “No Little People, No Little Places,” illustrates how, although Moses’ rod was just a piece of wood, in the hands of God it became a tool to free the Israelites from Egypt and guide them through the desert. But, in the hands of Moses, who disobeyed God’s command regarding lifting the rod to provide water, it became a tool of separation. Schaeffer challenges Christians to examine motives for serving — as a leader or a servant — and how to be available to be used by God.
“The Hand of God” teaches how God, as Spirit, does not have a physical hand, but the use of the term throughout the Bible points to God as provider. Through physical means, He works in the lives of believers in creating, preserving, chastising, providing, and inviting. According to Schaeffer, “The acts of God’s hand are a constant invitation for you to come to Him, to stop being rebellious, and to have Him as your real environment.”
In “The Weakness of God’s Servants” Schaeffer notes how God has continually used imperfect people — sinners — to accomplish His will, and he challenges Christians not to uphold a “utopian view” of believers, which makes the idea of perfection a target of aspiration. Christ alone is perfect and was the perfect model of how believers are to forgive those who fall or fail under the burden of sin.
“The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way” emphasizes the importance of doing God’s work not in the flesh but the Spirit. “The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism…nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us,” Schaeffer writes. Rather, it is that the Church tends to do the work of the Lord not in the Spirit, but the flesh. “The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”
Key ideas of the Christian life and the pursuit of grasping God, His Holiness, and Perfection, as well as the believer’s role in living in and living out this Godliness, are found throughout the sermons in No Little People. The most powerful and prophetic message, however, comes at the book’s close. “Ash Heap Lives” is a hard-hitting sermon convicting Christians who embrace the material world and get caught up in pursuing what God’s Word cautions against: laying up treasures on earth rather than in Heaven. Schaeffer cautions against being “infiltrated by the values of affluence and personal peace,” and he points to 1 Corinthian’s 3:10-15 to remind believers of the judgment that awaits. “A Christian has only one foundation: Jesus Christ his Savior. And on that foundation, he builds — with either combustible or noncombustible material.”
Francis Schaeffer died in 1984, 30 years after giving the sermons recorded in No Little People. Now, nearly 70 years since being written, his words ring truer and may even strike the Christian reader with more conviction than when they were first delivered to a group of seekers, questioners, and believers gathered in the small alpine chapel at the foot of the Swiss Alps.