Warning! Paragraph One Is a Lie!

worship 01

Not only does size matter, it’s the only thing that matters.

That statement is a lie; it smells of the smoke of hell. But few lies are more deeply held by our terminally shallow society. We might as well tattoo it on our foreheads. We embrace it like a lover. We suck it in like life-giving oxygen even as its pollution shrivels our souls. Why not bow down and chant Paragraph One ten times daily? We can’t imagine that it might not be true.

But, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Wash your ears out with this!”

“Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.”

The statement has been attributed to Albert Einstein, but the online “Quote Investigator,” traces it to sociologist William Bruce Cameron (1963). I’d just trace its truth a good deal further back. Back to our Creator.

In a fallen world, spreadsheets and bank statements and analyses of gross national product, etc., probably must be counted. Quantified. Measured. Weighed.

But not everything can or should be. Not what really matters. Taking a cue from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I wrote a book one time entitled How To Measure a Rainbow. I’m pretty sure the point was, you can’t do it! But, oh, how we try!

Even in the one organization devoted to a King and kingdom whose life-giving values are always counter to this world’s dance with death we blindly fall to Paragraph One.

In his heartwarming memoir The Pastor, pastor Eugene Peterson calls his colleagues to be true to their calling and not desecrate their vocation by becoming “religious entrepreneurs with business plans.”

For years, he met with a group of pastors encouraging each other to live life with and love God’s people, something far deeper than just morphing into religious CEOs running organizations in competition with other religious CEOs. They were pastors calling people to worship God and find their identity in Him.

Occasionally, a group member desiring to “maximize his effectiveness,” meaning he wanted a bigger church so badly he could taste it, would cut and run. (Of course, there were other moves in and out and to different churches for valid reasons.) But the pastors tried to remind each other that bowing to size and seeking to worship (and be worshiped by) a crowd is idolatry and that God’s people, congregations of whatever size, are to be treated with respect and dignity as holy and of immense value not because they are large. Because they are His.

Knowing that we are God’s, we worship Him. Everything else springs from that worship. To worship means “to acknowledge worth.” If we are first and foremost worshipers of God, then our outreach and evangelism and mission work and service become the beautiful fruit of worship. If we don’t, it begins to rot by becoming just something else we try to count and quantify and stick on a pie chart so we can worship our work, our “effectiveness,” ourselves, rather than our God.

Worship reminds us that Paragraph One is a lie.


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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