What’s your number?

One of the first things we noticed when we left the organized part of church is how small our lives was in comparison with the congregation we left behind.  They do so much for the underprivileged.  They have a large amount of resources.  The pastors are honest and open people.  They are very good leaders.  The worship is top class.  They excel in children’s ministry.  They can reach a lot of people.  Compared to them we are only a speck.  Horton, are you there? 🙂 This comparison left us feeling useless.  We had no function. 

It all changed when God showed us that He is present in the everydayness of our lives.  It revolutionized our small world.  Gone was the comparison game.  Jesus showed us that we can connect with people and become their friends.  Somehow, sometime, He will begin to shine into their lives and we can walk a shared journey together.  The question however remains.  Will our small walk make a difference in the bigger scheme of things?

Perhaps this quote from Juan Carlos Ortiz will give some perspective.

Once an old woman in Argentina introduced me to a girl. “This is my granddaughter,” she said.
“Is that so?” I replied.
“Yes, I have great-grandchildren,” she said. “One of them is fifteen already, so if she marries soon I may even have great-great-grandchildren.”
“How many children did you have?” I asked.
“And now you have how many grandchildren?”
“And how many great-grandchildren?”
“Who knows?” she said. “I’ve never counted them.”
According to that proportion, she could have 216 great-grandchildren and 1,296 great-great-grandchildren!
Her family was quite impressive, too; one son was a doctor, another a lawyer, two were farmers, one was a taxi driver. Among her grandsons were engineers and many other professional people.
If I had asked her, “How did you manage such a large family—all these well-fed, well-dressed, well-educated people?” she would have replied, “I didn’t. I just took care of the six.”

Can we take care of six frienships over 30 years or so?  I believe it is possible.  Of course many people look at the quote from Juan and suddenly they have a formula on how to reach the world.  Let’s start an comprehensive discipleship drive for christians to reach six people at a time and teach them how to be disciples.  It won’t work.  Discipleship is life flowing into life.  It cannot be taught.  I think Philip Yancey said it best.

Love…is not mathematical; we can never precisely calculate the greatest possible good to be applied equally to the world’s poor and needy. We can only seek out one person, and then another, and then another, as objects for God’s love.

You don’t need impressive credentials to be a friend.  And as anyone will tell you with friendship.  “A friend is never just a number.”


7 thoughts on “What’s your number?

  1. Wow…I can do that. Linking it to a family idea (I have 7 children) I can see the possibilities. People always asked me how I took care of so many kids. I always said, “one at a time.”
    Great post.

  2. Hi Barb,

    I must say, I have a very high regard of anyone who can take care of seven children!! The thing about christianity is that it is not rocket science. It’s a way of living that a four year old can understand and more important, experience. It is something all of us can do. Jesus wants to be our Friend. Perhaps we can learn from Him?


  3. Fantastic post! I also love the comment that a four year old can understand Christ following. It’s so freeing when it’s just about being. I think just being who we are in God (His beloved children) is powerful in and of itself, and when we get into the lives of others, they respond to Him in us, without us even trying a lot of the time.

    It really is easy… but I still try to make it hard sometimes (maybe to live up to others’ expectations – “Well, what are YOU doing for the kingdom of God?”), and sometimes, I even end up being one of those people asking someone else the same dumb question, but from the organic/social justice side of things. I like what Graham Cooke says, “We’re all recovering Pharisees.” Thanks for contributing your thoughts here. Great stuff!

  4. Hi Sarah,

    we do make it difficult for ourselves, don’t we? We simply do not value the simplicity of our everydaylives and because of that, we miss out. Next time if a person asks you. “What are you doing for the kingdom of God?” give them this answer. “I live.”

  5. really, really good. i love what you said about how some people then see it as a new expontential way to reach more people and lose sight of the most important point that those six are people, real people, who deserve looking in the eye, being believed in, being loved. i have been so convicted lately in a good way by a false belief that small isn’t good enough, that there must be something “wrong” (attributed to messed up church leadership training that i’m in the brutal process of undoing…) when it totally undervalues what is right before me, the beautiful lovely friends who i’m in relationship with, who are here, right here, right now.

  6. I came over here today from Sarah’s blog. Great post, and great point.

    More and more I’m seeing the ways that all of us–not just a few–can participate in God’s kingdom. Just the idea of it fills me with wonder.

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