We humans believe numbers mean something. For God, it is precisely numbers that mean nothing, nothing at all. ~ Soren Kierkegaard
Only one number matters. Who wears it matters more.
We are designed to live for an audience of One but we long for the love of the many.
This is Holy Week, when we remember the cruelty and incomprehension of the numbering crowd. Jesus, alone on the cross, bears the weight of our fickle longing for more.
We have, from the start, broken the first commandment of the one God who knows what we need. But “no other gods before me” has become “every other god before you” for us, his wild and wandering children. Do we still worship other gods in our sanitary age? We do–we worship the god of numbers.
Drawn by the power of numbers, we submit to the whims of the herd:
- What everyone is doing
- What everyone is watching
- What everyone is buying
- What everyone is believing
- What everyone is fearing
- What everyone is applauding,
We will applaud the same.
How much are you paid? How many adore you? How great is the evidence of your charismatic success?
Numbers dazzle us. Numbers pressure us. We crave the impressive approval of numbers, when we were made for an audience of One.
Josiah was only eight years old when he climbed onto the throne of Judah. His hell-bent father and grandfather had crowded the countryside with altars, sacred poles, carved images of the sun, the moon, the constellations, and “all the host of heaven.” The bloody and brutal fruit of importing the gods of other nations? Child sacrifice, temple prostitution, and soothsayers whispering secrets in the night.
The Old Testament reads like a tragedy–God’s people dancing to a dark and demanding audience of gods, exchanged for the blessing of One.
But Josiah was different, a king who remembered who is King.
Josiah pulled down the altars, demolished the shrines, beat the idols and images into powder wherever he found them. He did away with mediums, wizards, priests of Baal. But most important, he blew the dust off a forgotten book and called a nation to turn back to its Author, to return to an audience to One.
“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might…nor did any like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25).
One person, with a single intention, embracing whole-heartedly one unconquerable love–what can God accomplish through a person who lives every day for his applause alone?
Whose applause and approval are you dying for?
In our series, An Alphabet Adagio, we are savoring the story of the Bible, our story, alphabetically. You can subscribe to e-mail above so you won’t miss a letter.