Strength In Numbers

By Matthew Lautz

This week the Warriors are on their way to claiming back to back NBA championships.  After embarrassing Lebron James and the Cavs with a 33 point win, the Warriors are at a point of serious consideration for being the best NBA team in history.  Since winning 73 games this season, which is the most ever, the Warriors have been the heavy favorites coming into the 2016 playoffs. 

And while they are comfortably ahead 2 games here down the stretch of the finals, the playoffs have been anything but comfortable.  They have been gruesome and daunting, to say the least.  This team has had to fight every battle to win this war.  And what’s most amazing is that they are doing it virtually without their star MVP, Steph Curry, who during the regular season shattered the three point record with 403 made shots behind the arch, which is over a hundred more than the previous record, which was held by none other than Steph Curry from the previous year.  

What’s carried this team so far, and what is allowing them to dominate their Finals’ opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the fact that they are stronger together than they are individually.  The team’s motto this year has been “Strength In Numbers”.  Anyone going to a playoff game this year will have been given a t-shirt with this mantra on it, symbolizing the value of having a team made up of many members working together to achieve victory.  Whether it’s Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green, or Andre Iguodala, or Andrew Bogut, or Shaun Livingston—this team has had to rely on everyone to rise up and make a difference.  And it’s worked.  If this team was only about its star player, it would have lost in the first round of the playoffs.  But because of its reliance on everyone to participate and contribute, it has been able to do the unimaginable.

And the same is true for the church. 

It’s often believed that the church is built around it’s star players—priests, pastors, reverends, worship leaders, elders, cardinals, etc (if we can consider them star players).  But the truth is that this is not God’s plan for his church.  God has designed his church as a level playing field, where everyone is expected to contribute.  The church is a priesthood of all believers, meaning that anyone who has given their life to Jesus is a needed and useful player in the game.

IN THIS TEAM, EVERYONE MATTERS

1 Peter 2:5 says that we are living stones being built up into a spiritual house, where the presence of God will dwell.  If you think about a brick house, is there a brick that is more important than the others?  Could you say that this brick on the eastern wall is more important than that brick on the western wall?  Every person matters in the house of God.  Every person is essential to his plan to build his church.  

And yet, we also know that one stone bears the weight of all the other stones in the house.  One stone sets the reference point for all the other stones.  The cornerstone is the first stone.  It sets the foundation, and so its angles and measurements must be perfect.  If the cornerstone is off, then all the other stones will be misaligned.  The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that Jesus is this perfect cornerstone, and “in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”  God’s church is a structure designed to house his Spirit.  It’s made up of living stones, people made alive in Jesus.  And it’s built up, one stone at a time.  No stone is without purpose or designation.  Every stone matters in the house of God.

AND THERE WILL BE A LOT OF STONES

When God made his original promise to Abraham, God told him, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”  God was making a claim, not for the biological family of Abraham, but for the faith family of Abraham.  And later in the story of this faith family, through the prophet Hosea in the Old Testament, God says, “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’

God’s promise to make a faith family as numerous as the sand on the beach and the stars in the sky culminates with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Now those that believe in Jesus become part of that faith family that was promised to Abraham thousands of years ago, grafted in like a branch to a tree.  1 Peter 2:10 uses the words of Hosea when describing the church of Jesus, connecting the family promised to Abraham with the family built upon the living cornerstone of Jesus: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  

The church of Jesus Christ, which God is building into a dwelling place for his Spirit, is a house of many stones—countless stones.  And each stone is valuable and precious to God.  Each stone matters and was placed with purpose and care.  God didn’t make us to be a team that just watches our star player dominate the game (like some Northern Ohio teams we know).  God made us so that every person has a role on the team and is expected to contribute.  We are a team as vast as the stars, as numerous as the sand in the oceans.  We are God’s team, God’s house, God’s family.

And there is strength in our numbers.