” …having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them….go after the one which is lost until he finds it……”  Luke 15:6

” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one who repents….. Luke 15:7

“….and not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore….. Luke 12:6

Are we a numbers driven world or what?  An interesting quirk to mathematics, zero represents nothing or the absence of a thing.  Yet string zeros together and put a number in front of the string and all the sudden those zeros represent very much indeed (as in 1,000,000,000).

It seems that we a numbers obsessed society and normally the larger the better.  We celebrate who has the tallest building in numbers of feet or meters.  We judge who is better at their task or vocation based on the higher numbers they can demand for a salary.  We judge affluence based on the number of possessions; cars, houses, airplanes, amount and value of jewelry, that are owned.  We measure a person’s popularity about how many friends they have on one social media site, followers on another, likes on another.  In fact you can pay someone just so you can increase that number!  Sadly, even in many of our churches we measure success based on the numbers of persons in attendance or how much the weekly intake of money is.

So with all that pressure to measure, to find increase, to go viral, to chase the ever illusive more or higher, of what value is one?  We often hear, the one, marginalized.  What good is my one vote; we ask ourselves?  What can I do; I am only one?  You can’t buy anything with one dollar anymore.

Jesus often found Himself preaching against and fighting this human tendency to judge based on the greater.  It’s not just in our day but back when He was on earth, the great people, even those felt to be more righteous, gave more, had more titles behind their names, had more servants, more possessions, went to the temple more.  Thus the opposite appeared to be true.  Those who were poor, those who owned little, those who begged, those who were measured and found to have little to no power, those overlooked by society were sinners.  Those lowly people should not even be associated with, let alone joined for dinner, healed or preached good news to.

So Jesus, in very plain language, tells those who would overlook anyone, just how important each one is.  There is a flock and of course there is an owner of the flock.  These people would understand this example for during their time, owning flocks and their size was an important determiner of wealth.  Jesus points out that if a sheep is found to be missing, then a frantic search will ensue.  It is not as if the owner will just forgo the one as an acceptable loss without any effort to find it.  No, the owner will leave those who are found and desperately search for the one that is lost.  The owner does not blame the sheep for becoming lost and when the owner finds the sheep he does not beat it or punish for becoming lost.  Hardly, the owner picks the sheep up and brings it back to the flock calling to his neighbors, rejoicing in finding that one lost sheep.  Jesus then makes the most important point; that is how heaven works.  Our Heavenly Father, in fact the entire heavenly host finds the one, the lost one, of supreme importance.  For they rejoice greatly, like the earthly owner, when a lost sheep, in this case a sinner repents and comes to Christ.

Thus dear sisters and brothers we must know several things.  First, you and I are important, are known by name, the hairs on our very head are numbered.  Now, unless we become puffed up by pride, we are known in and because of His Grace, Mercy and Love and not because of our righteousness.  We are sinners and the only reason we are not known as sinners in heaven is because we are cleansed of our sin by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  Yet through and because Our Heavenly Father knows us individually, we can be confident that He has a specific plan, with specific blessings for each of us.  Second, we must know that we are not to judge others based on some earthly measurement of value.  We should understand that they who the world would judge as least in their eyes, is very likely measured as great in God’s eyes.

For example, there is a sin I struggle with, even with this blog.  By the Grace of God, I will write a post.  I will then look, over time, to see how often it is read.  Here’s when the sin of numbers come in.  If I see that a post has been read by a few, one or two, I will tend to be dismissive of that post, feeling that something was amiss with that post.  However, if I see many zeros behind a post, I will feel that it had more value.  So in a way I’m dismissing the one or two who were led to the post and read it.  In a way even with the posts with more readers, I’m devaluing any individual and only seeing value in the group.  That, I confess, is a very great sin, a behavior that can easily lead to pride and vanity.  Instead, know that I am very thankful to Our Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to praise His Name as well am thankful for the every single person, individually, now and in the future who read these words.  In sincere humility, I am blessed by your presence.  Let each one of us, be like Our Heavenly Father and see the value in the one, each one of His wonderful creation, our fellow human beings.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so very thankful that You have desired to know each one of us individually, that you have devised a perfect plan for each of us, that You, in Your Mercy, Love each one of us.  Forgive us when we make judgements based on how this world judges, overlooking those who are seen as having little to no value.  Pour out Your Spirit that we might humbly remember that we are sinners and You sent the One, Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ to be our Savior.  That seeing the value of each one and the One, we would live lives of praise to Your Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

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