Even Just One
During my college years I worked many jobs. Some of my jobs were in the retail industry. I worked for one very large retailer in my home state of Michigan around seventeen years ago. Before I began working they had me do some training on a computer. During my training I learned about ‘loss prevention’ and ‘shrink.’
‘Shrink’ is a term in retail that refers to all the goods that are lost through shop lifting, or employee theft or some other fraud. It’s normal for retailers in the United States to lose about 1.5% of their goods through shrink. They would like it to be lower, but they do not want to do anything drastic because they fear losing or upsetting customers. So, for them, 1% is an acceptable loss.
At another job, when I worked at a shoe store, I once chased down a shoplifter and brought him back to the store. We got back the shoes he had stolen and the shoplifter was arrested. But when the regional manager found out, she was upset. What I did was too risky, they would rather just lose the shoes, lose the 1%.
God’s math is different from ours. To God, even a 1% loss is unacceptable. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12–14, ESV).
One theme throughout Matthew 18 is that each and every person matters to God. We may write a certain number of people off, but God never does. God continues to pursue and wishes each and every person to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.