Numbers. Numbers are everywhere. Numbers fill our lives. Telephone numbers. House numbers. National Insurance numbers. Which number bus we will go for? Which track will we play on the CD? What is the registration number of our car? Have I had two cups of coffee or just one?
We measure time with numbers. We measure our height and our weight with numbers. Birthdays are numbers, until we stop counting. Our wedding anniversary is counted in numbers. Sporting events are dominated by numbers. World records are numbers. Have I had three cups of coffee or just two?
Our Twitter followers are numbers. Our Facebook friends are numbers. How many likes have we had? How many friends have I got? How many new followers have I got? What page am I up to in that book I am supposed to be reading? I have totally lost count of how many cups of coffee I have had.
What time is it? What date is it? Passwords. Oh, so many passwords that must contain a number. So many PIN numbers to remember. How much is left in the bank account? What is the balance still outstanding on that loan? What time did I say that I would meet you? I need another cup of coffee.
Numbers. Numbers are everywhere. Numbers fill our lives. Numbers are necessary for life to happen. But here is the thing. Do we control the numbers or do numbers control us? Do we live as slaves to numbers of one kind or another? Or are they numbers our servants in our lives?
I trust that these are not idle questions. Because I perceive that numbers have taken control in church so very often. How many members does our church have? How many seats can we fill this coming Sunday morning? How many empty seats do we have? How much did the collection raise this morning?
Now it seems that the 23rd of September this year of 2017 is when the world will end, or something else dramatic is going to happen. Why that date? Because that is apparently the way that the numbers work out. I wonder if Yahweh sits in heaven and shakes his head in disbelief at human wisdom.
It was so very refreshing that Jesus was not concerned with numbers in the ways that we so often are. He was focused on quality, not quantity. That was why he started with twelve and finished with eleven. So many, many people followed Jesus for a season, and then the season ended.
Are we making disciples with quality as our watchword? Are we more concerned about the quality of disciples that we are making, rather than the quantity? Do we care more about having our churches grow in maturity and Christ-likeness than we do in mere number? Numbers. Our servants, or our god?