Every now and then I like to worship with a Google map. Using the Internet giant's satellite mapping system, I travel thousands of miles across the globe in mere secondsâ€”all with the scroll of a mouse. I view my house from above, visit the world's greatest cities and aerially tour everything from the Himalayas to Antarctica.
Maps have always held my attention. There's something fascinating about condensing miles and miles of land to a piece of paperâ€”or in this case, a monitor screen. But as a believer who often struggles with wrapping my mind around the size of God, Google's nifty tech tool doesn't just fascinate me, it leaves me prostrate before my Creator.
What other response is appropriate when Beijing, appearing more like a Jackson Pollock piece than a metropolis, becomes an imperceptible dot as you zoom out? Seventeen million people contained within a microscopic mark. If Google could venture any farther, Earth would undergo the same transformation. Then the sun, then the Milky Way, then our cluster of galaxies. Billions upon billions of light years away, and yet we still would not reach the end of what God can measure with one hand (see Is. 40:12)!
This is the immeasurable greatness of a God who is both incomprehensibly macroscopic and unfathomably microscopic, who tallies both galaxies and quarks. When we consider His scope, what else is there to do but repeat David's gut-wrenching cry from 1 Chronicles 17:16: "Who am I, O Lord God?"
Sadly, I sense a different response from some Christian leaders in our country today. With the rise of the megachurch and megaministry has come a new standard: measuring success not by thousands but tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands. Whether that's congregational size, square-footage expansion, per-donor giving or even souls won, it is now oddly acceptable to christen someone a giant in the faith according to this quantification.
Only a few chapters after David humbly postured himself before God, Satan persuaded him to measure Israel (see 1 Chr. 21). The census itself was not the sin; the pride behind the counting was. David's boast in his megachurch's size led to such a severe punishment that God Himself could not bear to see it through.
I sense us sliding into the same sin when I hear pastors comparing satellite campus counts or the previous year's baptism numbers. The thought is simultaneously sickening and laughable. After all, who would be foolish enough to measure his "kingdom achievements" to a God who numbers the stars, grains of sand, hairs on our heads, etc.? Yet Satan attaches a self-destruct button labeled "pride" to every leadership position. Unfortunately, it's easily accessibleâ€”and pushed often.
Regardless of how expansive your church's growth, I challenge you to take the higher course in measurementâ€”the same one David found after realizing his counting error. Scripture recounts that he paid a price for the threshing floor, where his eventual worship established the groundwork for God's residence with Israel. Your humility, purchased via the threshing floor of ministry, is what paves the way for worship, which ushers in God's presence. Seek this, not numbers. And if you must count, start with the souls in your city, country, or world who haven't encountered that presence.
Marcus Yoars is the editor of Ministry Today.