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Throughout the inspired word of God numbers come up all the time. Numbers of Israelites, numbers of people who served God, numbers of those who died, numbers of families, generations between one main figure and the next. Numbers pop up all the time. The question begs to be asked… why are numbers so important? Why do they come up all the time?
In this chapter of the Faith-Shaped Life, Mr. Hamilton brings up the importance of numbers. Numbers tell us alot of information. We see numbers being used to delineate the number of people in each tribe of Israel. Numbers show the amount of disobedient people destroyed. Generations are given to show passage of time, and God’s planning. They also help us to see progression, such as we see in Acts when the Holy Spirit moves among the people bringing many to faith.
In some circles, my own even, people often decry the focus on numbers. Saying what matters is that faith is central. The people are faithful, or growing in their faith and that the word of God is preached. Therefore it doesn’t matter the size of the congregation, but more that they are faithful. I agree with that sentiment. At the same time, as I listen to Mr. Hamilton I wonder about these salient facts.
Developed an Unexpected Mindset
Perhaps in the focusing on faithfulness, could we unexpectedly believe that smaller is better? Could we perhaps have become content with being small? And therefore think that small is beautiful and good? If that thinking becomes our mindset (however inadvertently) it affects how we live out our faith.
Prayer gets forgotten. Because we have the mindset that small is good, do we forget to pray for the lost in our communities? Have we forgotten to pray that God help us see and meet needs in our communities that show God to those around us? Have we forgotten to ask God to add to our numbers? To help us grow, to help us wrestle with the things of God.
Have we truly forgotten how to pray deeply and meaningfully?
OR potentially… when we pray are we praying with the wrong motives in mind? Wanting ourselves to look good, or give our church a better profile? Does it grieve our hearts to see so many lost souls around us? Do we really want to see God glorified? The motivation should be central to all we say and do, and even more so should be our focus on our prayers. That God use us to bring him further glory. Do we understand that and pray for it? Or has it gotten lost in our smallness mindset?
Are our preachers remembering to preach the cross of Christ in everything? To always, in their messages, to bring forth the cross of Christ and how it affects our entire being? Christ’s love brought him to the cross. His love is the compelling force in our lives. Does that come through with every message preached and/or heard?
Is smallness bad?
Do not imagine for a moment that just because your church is small that you are somehow doing something wrong. BUT do look at the size of your church and ask these important questions. Is your church small because you don’t ask God, with the right motivation, with the compulsion of Christ’s love, for enough? Are you thinking too small in your prayer life?
Know this: we are living in the days of a risen, reigning Saviour. God gave him all authority in heaven and on earth. Remember therefore, that we can ask him for ANYTHING in his name. God tells us to “ask” and in that asking, to know it will be given to us.Since the cross, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus we are no longer living in a day of small things! Ian Hamilton, The faith-shaped life. p.120 Click To Tweet