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Friday, August 27, 2010

One Is a Number Too

We count how many people come to our church. Some don't think it is important. They do a very poor job in counting. They think that we are saying we are "all about numbers" if we count. We are about numbers. They don't grasp that one is a number too.

I have been in the ministry for approximately thirty years. There have been times when a small number of people came to a Bible study or worship experience. There have been snows, rainstorms and ice which have kept people at home. Usually someone will come to me on one of these occasions and say, "Well, I suppose we need to cancel this since so few here." I will never do so because of the small number that attend. I will always do my best to deliver what I believe is God's message to the one or the one thousand.

Jesus was a failure at the end of His ministry if the gospel is about large numbers. It isn't. Jesus would have given the same Sermon on the Mount if there had only been one in attendance. I am certainly not greater than Jesus.

How do I know this? Look at the stories of Jesus. Many of them have Him speaking directly to individuals. He heals a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years and has her tell Him her story. He stops to heal a blind man by the road. He touches a leper and heals a mans withered hand on the Sabbath. He calls a little child to Himself. Each of these present a Savior who knows His people by name.

The preachers of large numbers know the number who attended but hardly anyone else. They seek the spectacular energy which can be generated by a large crowd. They don't spend the time with the individual. They don't care.

Some will object, "Doesn't the Bible also record numbers?" Yes, it does. It speaks of 120 people being in the Upper Room before Pentecost. It tells of 3000 people being baptized in on Pentecost. Yet, these numbers were not kept for attendance records. They were given for the glory of God. The number of disciples went from 120 to over 3000 in less than ten days. That was a story of God's power and glory; not simply telling how many attended.

Our counting of those in attendance is not so that we can brag about what we are doing. It must be to exclaim what God is doing. It should represent a responsibility to each person.

But no one should become a number alone. Each and every one is someone for whom Jesus died. They are precious to Him and they must be to us.

Each week we ask people to give us their prayer requests. Those are sorted out and brought to staff meeting. We pray over each one of these requests and each staff member writes a note to the person who has made a request. (Sometimes they have gotten so many notes from us that they ask us not to send any more notes. We relent from sending notes to those.) We want people to know that they are not just numbers. They are precious to God. Because of this we will care for them as individuals. Our prayers and notes reflect this.

We will never understand the ministry of Jesus until we know that the number of people who are saved and become disciples are the accumulation of ones. Its like having a million dollars in one dollar bills. God never looks at the five, ten, twenty, fifty or hundred without seeing the one.

Every one you meet is a one that is loved by God. You are a one that is loved by God.

Never forget that one is a number too.

Matthew 18:5-6 (NIV)  
5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6  But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

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