Trust vs. Statistics

The last chapter of 2 Samuel reads somewhat like a page out of the Book of Revelation. It's got everything a good chapter in Revelation has: judgment, death and an "angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem" (v. 16, The Message).

The reason for all the death and hovering is because God tested King David. "Once again God's anger blazed out against Israel. He tested David by telling him, 'Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.' So David gave orders to Joab and the army officers under him, 'Canvass all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and get a count of the population. I want to know the number'" (vv. 1-2).

"But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics. And David prayed to God, 'I have sinned badly in what I have just done. But now God forgive my guilt—I've been really stupid'" (v. 10).

From demographics and direct mail to crowd size and offering receipts, how many times do we let the digits dictate our decisions? How many times, like David, have we let our trust in God be trumped by our trust in numbers?

CNN founder Ted Turner, in a speech he gave at Harvard years ago, said, "There's never a reason for a study if your idea is conceptually sound. You have to have confidence in your own ideas. I never did a market study on CNN. I do my own marketing analysis."

If Ted Turner can ignore the numbers every once in a while, maybe we could too. And just imagine what might happen when we add "trusting in God" to our marketing mix. There's an idea.

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