6,857,000,000 Reasons Why

20 07 2010

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises Him (NIV)

Put another way

An honest life shows respect for GOD; a degenerate life is a slap in His face (MSG)

There are billions of people in the world; 6,857,000,000-ish. Looking at Proverbs 14:2 (in the Bible) today, the first thing that crossed my mind was, why does God take my actions so personally? If I am choosing to be a deviant, there are roughly 6,856,999,999 alternatives.

Looking to the left, let’s say I was a total Athiest and had absolutely no regard for, no interest in, not even a passing thought that God is real and has a personal interest in me. So what? What’s one or even a million Athiests to God? Let them live their life believing this is all there is and in the end, the end. So what if they go about their life explaining everything their way and not glancing up, not even once; it isn’t like God needs them and apparently they don’t need Him either. They ask nothing, they would get nothing (except vicariously, benefiting from other’s faith systems that keep the world in check). Let’s even half the population, that still gives God a lot of material to work with: 3,428,500,000.

Moving to more middle-ground, so what if there are a pile of people who loosely believe there is a heaven and hell and live more like the latter? So what if they pay God a visit only twice a year, but use His name more regularly to vent off assorted frustrations? So what if they have a cocktail of beliefs which conflict more than they agree? Let’s say that gives God only one-quarter of the earth’s people who will return His affection. That’s still 1,714,250,000; but who’s counting?

Jesus wanted us to know something: God counts.  Trying to help us understand the nature of God, Jesus painted a word picture for us:

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18: 12-14)

This passage is only one of many that describe the lengths to which God will go to save even one little person (check out Luke 15 for a series of stories, for example). What a waste of time, hey? I mean why go after someone who’s like, “Why are you following me, get lost.”

While it is true that God’s image is stamped on me, I have to remember that my image is not stamped on God. I let relationships go when it seems they have run their course; God doesn’t. God doesn’t twist any arms, that’s true; but He keeps showing up at the door:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

So, back to Proverbs. First of all, it would be good to just look at what kind of person is being described in that verse. This person has or is “departing” or “turning aside” from the good standard God set for all of creation. Something is “going wrong” in them and they are following a “crooked” path; if they continue down the course they are tracking, they will be “lost from view.”

Why does this matter so much to God. Honestly, there are so many people. Will God even remember me if I fall away?

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

I can’t explain why I, why you, matter so much to God; why He counts and checks and re-checks. I don’t know why He wants me to have an abundant life. I don’t know why He wants to fill our hearts with faith and hope and love and joy. I don’t know why He wants to walk with us through every single trial we encounter and strengthen us. But God sets a table before us…this reminds me…

Years ago, we went on a cruise as a family. Of course, the highlight is the food. So each night we would sit down to a feast: steak, lobster, creme-brule! It was a wonder!  Every night, Nathan ordered a hot-dog; I’m not kidding. The Server was so dismayed; had Nathan looked at the menu? Didn’t the thought of freshly made crab cakes make his mouth water? I can’t imagine how insulting that must have been for the chef!

It’s a weak comparison, but I think my off choices must feel like that to God. I could be living an astounding life if only I would follow the recommendations of the Mind behind it all; but no, I choose scraps of things, pressed together, and call it a life. That’s a slap in the face. It doesn’t matter that I am only one person, if I am a person that God created. I mean what work of art doesn’t matter to the artist? Every one reminds Him of a time and a place and a thought and an inspiration.

God literally slaved over us (Philippians 2:7-9 says He, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!) so yeah, our response to His extreme measures matter just a little bit.

I matter, you matter; 6,857,000,000 people matter, so much so that God pursues us in earnest and calls out to us, “Today, when you hear My voice, do not harden your heart…” (Hebrews 3:15).

— Teresa Klassen

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