The mathematics of Heaven

From today’s reading of Matthew 18

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:5-6 (ESV)

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:12-14 (ESV)

Jesus is relentless love.

He stands against church growth strategies that treat people like numbers. When someone falls away, he pursues them and calls us to do the same. The idea of leaving ninety-nine to pursue one doesn’t make mathematical sense to us, but it makes sense to him. Oh to fully grasp the beautiful, redemptive mathematics of Heaven.

I can hardly put into words the impact this passage has on me. I have failed to pursue the one so often. I have passively sat back when observing others making the same mistake, rather than speaking exhortation to them and offering to run alongside with them in the pursuit of our lost sheep. I have given up on people, content to remain with the ninety-nine, then the ninety-eight, then the ninety-seven . . .

Without even trying I can think of a dozen young people who desperately need to be reclaimed. In light of that, I can’t really do justice to the scripture quoted above with lame words in a blog post and belated lamentations.

I do know this: it is difficult, frustrating, lonely work to search for the one, to try to bring them back when they themselves would rather be lost. That’s one reason so few of us do it. But it is the will of the Father that none of these little ones should perish. Jesus is relentless love.

May my love be relentless too. Enough said and amen.