Musician Matthew West recently released a song entitled “My Own Little World.” The first part of the song is a confession: In my own little world it hardly ever rains; I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe; I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet; In my own little world; Population: me; I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church; I throw a twenty in the plate, but I never give ’til it hurts; I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see; Yeah, it’s easy to do when it’s; Population: me
In this song, Matthew West confesses that sometimes we live in our own little world with population: me. What matters most to us is that we’ve got money in our pockets and shoes on our feet. We don’t even consider those who may have no money and no shoes. We just turn off the news when we don’t like what we see. There are times when we live in our own little word. And we act as if the world exits solely for me.
In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Leonard Mlodinow shares a story from the life of baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. It was the summer of 1945. World War II had ended. Soldiers were streaming back into American life. One of them was Joe Dimaggio. One day DiMaggio tried to sneak into a crowded baseball stadium without anyone seeing him. Dimaggio had with him his four-year-old son, Joe, Jr. A fan noticed Dimaggio. Then another saw him. And another. Soon the entire stadium was chanting, “Joe, Joe, Joe DiMaggio!” DiMaggio was touched. He looked down to see if his son had noticed the verbal tribute. Joe Jr. indeed had noticed. “See, Daddy,” said the little DiMaggio, “everybody knows me!”  Joe Jr. thought the crowd was celebrating him. It is possible to live in our own little world where everything is about me.
Isaiah prophesied to a group struggling with this perspective. We are told that Isaiah prophesied “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Is. 1:1). The “days of Uzziah” were days of prosperity. They were days of power. And they were days of patriotism. King Uzziah fortified the gates and walls of Jerusalem making the city strong (2 Chr 26:9). He ensured the security of the nation by training a massive and well equipped army. Because of their military superiority, the nation of Judah enjoyed great economic affluence (Is. 2:7; 3:16-23; 5:8-12,21-24). In Isaiah 2, the prophet speaks about how their land is filled with silver and gold (2:7), filled with horses and chariots (2:7), and surrounded by high towers and fortified walls (2:15-16). These were days of prosperity, power, and patriotism.
And the people were proud of what they had accomplished. Isaiah speaks about their “haughty looks” (2:11), “lofty pride” (2:11), their being “proud and lofty” (2:12), their haughtiness (2:17), and their “lofty pride” (2:17). They had built a beautiful world all for themselves. Wealth and health. Prosperity and protection. The economy was booming. Business was brisk. No other nation could touch them. Uzziah’s was a world where it hardly ever rained, where people rarely went hungry, where people always felt safe, where they had money in their pockets and shoes on their feet. And ultimately it became Uzziah’s own little world with population: me. Their pride betrayed their self-centeredness and their self-absorption. All that mattered to them was how good life was where they lived. Little thought was given at all to those outside of Judah.
Sometimes that happens to us. We get caught up in our own little world. We act as if the world is all about me.
But what if there’s more? In the same song I quoted from a moment ago, musician Matthew West asks this very question: What if there’s a bigger picture?; What if I’m missing out?; What if there’s a greater purpose; I could be living right now; Outside my own little world; Well, I stopped at a red light, looked out my window; I saw a cardboard sign, said “Help this homeless widow”; Above that sign was the face of a human; and I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”; So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye; I thought how many times have I just passed her by?; So I gave her some money then I drove on through; And my own little world reached; Population: two.
Like Uzziah and the people of Judah, there are times when we live in our own little world. There are times when we approach life as if it’s population: me. But maybe there’s a bigger picture. Maybe there’s a greater purpose. Maybe it ought to be at least population: two.
Isaiah raises these same questions in Isaiah 2:1-5. Here’s how that text begins: 1The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (Is. 2:1 ESV). God sends Isaiah a vision. And through this vision he is able to see the bigger picture.
Notice how the vision begins: 2 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills… (Is. 2:2 NLT) The mountain of the Lord’s house is a reference to the temple in Jerusalem, and more generally to the nation of Judah. The vision seems to be that Uzziah’s world is going to get even better. It’s going to become the most important place on earth. It’s going to be raised above all other hills. They’ll be even more money in their pockets. They’ll be even better shoes on their feet. They’ll be an increase of power, prosperity, and patriotism. They’ll be so high that no one’s going to ever be able to touch them.
But that’s not what the vision turns out to be. It’s not a vision about increasing the quality of their own little world. It’s a very different vision: …and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. 3 People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. (Is. 2:2-4 NLT). Uzziah’s world is filled with people who are consumed with themselves—comparing their wallets and their shoes and turning off their televisions when they choose. But Isaiah says that God is consumed with the world. God’s dream is one where people from around the world are able to come to the mountain of the Lord to be taught his ways. God’s dream is for his instruction to flow from this mountain to all nations of the earth. While Uzziah’s crowd is busy boasting about their nation’s might and magnificence, God is busy dreaming of fixing the world. His dream is to get outside the world of Judah and to resolve international disputes, racial conflicts, riots and protests, wars and battles.
God’s dream is one in which the swords of the nations are hammered into plowshares and the spears of the countries are fashioned into pruning hooks. Notice that the weapons are turned into garden tools. Garden tools ought to make us think of the Garden of Eden. Thus, God’s vision is of Eden being restored. But in this vision it’s not just Adam and Even in the Garden. It’s not just Uzziah and his peers. It’s not just Judah. It’s every nation, every tribe, and every tongue enjoying God’s peace and prosperity.
It is a stunning vision—one which people haven’t been able to forget. The United Nations garden contains several sculptures and statues that have been donated by different countries. One is called “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares.” It was a gift from the then Soviet Union. How fitting that it would be in the garden of the United Nations. Though flawed, the institution reminds us that the world consists of many nations, not just one. And they find their inspiration in this dream from Isaiah 2.
In essence, Isaiah’s vision says this: God is interested in far more than just our own little world. While Uzziah and Judah were focused on their own successes and celebrating their own accomplishments, God was focused on the whole wide world. Isaiah’s dream showed that God wished to be involved not just with Judah. It showed that God wished to be involved with the entire globe. God’s dream was to reach out to every living person with the result that wars ended and peace was experienced in Europe, Africa, Asia, and everywhere else. God is interested in far more than just our own little world.
Even more, Isaiah’s vision showed that God longed to use his people to turn the vision into reality. That’s why God says this at the end of the vision: 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Is. 2:5 ESV). The word Jacob is a reference to God’s people. And from what follows, it’s clear that God’s people were not walking in the light of the Lord. They were proud and self-centered. But, Isaiah and God dream, if they would make themselves available to God, through them God could bless the entire earth. Through them God could reach out to every nation and bring his heavenly peace into every heart.
Isaiah and God are saying this: God dreams of using us to bless the whole wide world. God’s not interested in a group of people who live blessed and boastful in their own little world. He’s interested in using that group of people to bring blessing to the rest of the world.
And today, Highland’s Anniversary Sunday, that’s what we celebrate. It would have been easy for an urban church like Highland to move to the suburbs and just create our own little world. But when we opened the doors one year ago, we were captured by a different vision. We worshiped the God of Is. 2—a God who is dreaming not only about the lives of the people at the Highland church, but also about the lives of those in Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, Arlington, Lakeland, Millington, Bartlett, Raleigh, Frayser, north Mississippi, and eastern Arkansas. We worshiped a God who is dreaming not only about our country, but also about the Philippines, Ukraine, and Papua New Guinea. That’s why we’ve spent so much of our time this last year partnering with groups like Macon Hall Elementary in Cordova, LeBonheur Hospital in Memphis, and LaRose Elementary in downtown Memphis. That’s why we’ve devoted ourselves to new initiatives like Go MAD where we spent a Sunday serving communities in the Mid South. That’s why we’ve continued long-standing ministries like WorkCamp, HopeWorks, Agape, and the Raleigh Community Church of Christ. And that’s our hope for our graduating seniors—that they be men and women who are not caught up in their own little world but that they be men and women caught up in God’s whole wide world.
And today on our Anniversary Sunday we recommit ourselves to this God and his dream. We are not here for our own little world. We are here to serve God’s vision for the whole wide world. We do not exist for the Highland Church and its forty acres. We exist for the Mid-South and its thousands of acres. Our dreaming does not end when we leave this campus in a few moments. That’s when our dreaming begins. Today we recommit ourselves to that bigger picture and that greater purpose. Today we pray, “Father break our heart for what breaks Yours, Give us open hands and open doors, and put Your Light in our eyes and let us see, That my own little world is not about me.”
 Leonard Mlodinow, “The Triumph of the Random,” The Wall Street Journal (7/3/09).
 Larry Walker Isaiah 1-39 The New American Commentary, Volume 15A, (Holman Reference, 2007), Ibid., Kindle: 3914.
 Motyer, J. A. (1999). Vol. 20: Isaiah: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (59). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.