Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Numbers – Do They Count Or Not?

Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amA few years ago – there was a discussion surrounding how many people witnessed President Obama’s Inauguration and how many witnessed President Trump’s Inauguration. Pictures taken at different times in the process were used by one side to earn points for their argument. The other side made their points and neither side seemed to care about the facts – simply making their points.

It seems – for some – that more means better – and so each side tries to make their event the biggest ever. On October 4 – 1997 – I was part of an event sponsored by Promise Keepers called Stand in the Gap. I remember being there that day. I have never been in the midst of so many godly men. Early reports from Promise Keepers was over 1 million men were there. I heard and read some reports that estimated over 3 million men – not just in the mall area but in the surrounding areas too. I remember the liberal media under reporting the number of men who came out to that event saying in some reports that a few hundred thousand people came out. Again – the sides differ in their reports – numbers apparently count to some.

Numbers matter. I have been caught up in the past – concerned with the number of people who came to our church in worship on Sunday mornings. It is a number that some pastors and churches and even some in conference leadership really follow. It seems to matter to some if there are 100 or 200 or 500 or 1,000 in attendance. I know that with larger numbers more can be accomplished. One of my son-in-laws was a worship pastor with a church that had a regular attendance well over 5,000 a weekend (maybe even more). Our denominational churches – the United Methodist Church – annually turns in statistical reports for the bean counters to keep track. The number of people is one measure used to determine if a church is growing – if it is being impactful for the Lord. In the past I have been caught up in the reporting of worship attendance. It nearly got the best of me.

The statistical reports never ask us how many were saved this past year (in a 3 Sunday period not to long ago – there were 40 people in our church that expressed or confirmed their faith in Christ – but this isn’t in the statistical reports). They do ask about church attendance and church membership – but neither of these equates to salvation. Numbers are important – but what numbers?

As a student of accounting in my college days – I realized that if you work the numbers – you can make just about any argument you wish. Highlighting the right numbers can make a bad report look good.

Enough of this. Today’s passage shares that there will be a cloud of witnesses around us – as we run the race of life for Christ. The saints that have gone before us are witnessing our race – our journey. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Unfortunately – there will be less in the crowd of witnesses as there will be in those who will face eternal torment in hell. This report comes from Jesus Himself. Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Plan now to be in the smaller number (for a change). Put your trust in Christ and be counted among the witnesses who will watch those who run the race of faith to the end.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

September 25, 2019 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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