1 x 8 + 1 = 9;
12 x 8 + 2 = 98;
123 x 8 + 3 = 987;
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876;
Isn’t that cool how the numbers work together? Keep adding the next numeral in sequence to the first number as you increase by one the number before the equal sign. Watch what happens. Fun with math!
Statistics are interesting, too. Did you know that the US Population hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Tuesday, October 17, 2006?
In fact, the number of millions of people in the US and the number of billions of dollars donated to charity were identical in early 2010 – 306. 306 million people. 306 billion dollars. Oversimplifying, that means that every man, woman, boy, and girl in the US gave $1000 to charity this year. A thousand dollars per person! And since we know that children don’t usually have that kind of money, it is more like $2000 per adult American. That’s pretty generous!
The apostle Paul was interested in numbers and generosity, too. He had moved from great city to great city, region to region, continent to continent. His mission to evangelize and plant congregations made him the friend of thousands and the nexus of a far-flung association of churches. Paul understood how God’s grace had brought down the barriers among them – Jew vs. Gentile, free vs. slave, male vs. female, the so-called upper and lower classes. What mattered now was that they drew together in love for the cause of Christ. And we see that in today’s text. Warm greetings were sent from the Asian churches to the Greek churches. Paul’s reference to Stephanas and the Achaian converts indicates that they travelled from their province to Corinth to help Paul with a need the Corinthians couldn’t meet. Timothy invested in the work at Corinth, also, and Apollos would do so when he could.
You see, being one people united under one mission brings out compassion and generosity for each others’ needs. The Jerusalem church had a need; a financial need. And Paul had a method; regular, proportionate giving. Fun with math! The heart and the head come together to lend a hand. Paul initiated this collection for the Jewish-Christians among the Gentile-Christians of Galatia. “Hey, we’re in this together! One people of God. One mission.” Then on to the Corinthians, who were urged to do the same.
Paul, the associational missionary, went visiting and found unity and generosity. I’m looking forward to that myself. So, from your Associational Missionary -- “How can I help you?” and “How can we help each other?”
Pray: Lord of all, thank you for the thousands of brothers and sisters I have in Christ throughout the Redwood Empire. Help me to help them, in great and small ways. Soften our hearts for each other. Bind us together with love. Stir our generosity toward one another. Make us an association with impact. One people of God. One Mission. Dividing our burdens and multiplying joy.