Be Fruitful

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God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”
(Genesis 1:28 NRS).




(Image courtesy of brownbagdelivers.com)

Judaism considers this the first commandment God gave to humanity, long before the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.  It is most often interpreted to mean that human beings should have multiple children; hence, we would bear the fruit of progeny and increase our population numbers.  Suddenly, I see a new interpretation.  Granted I was reading this classical Hebrew text with Christian eyes and state of mind, but now I see that bearing fruit is not limited to sexual reproduction.  Perhaps the message is even more powerful when I think of bearing fruit as making disciples for Jesus Christ.

The main and constant mission of Christians since the day of the Ascension has been to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you’ ” (Matthew 28:18-20 NRS).  Christianity calls this the Great Commission.  If we are to claim the name “Christian,” then we are to fulfill Christ’s call in the Great Commission.  That means that it is not someone else’s job to make disciples, but ours.  Genesis offers a dire reason why.  We are to “fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28).  Unfortunately, many people have taken that as license to use the resources of the earth any way we please, but what the earth really does need is the subduing of its sin.  Christ offers us, not just the means to subdue our own sin, but the ability to subdue the sin of this world.  When we make disciples and they grow in faith, the learn to tame their sinful desires and impulses.  We can never eradicate sin, but we can subdue it, meaning hold it in check. 

If we reinterpret this scripture, and if we take the Great Commission seriously, then we cannot simply think that having one or more children satisfies the Lord.  Being a Christian is about more than procreation; it is about the generation of faith and the faithful.  The mantle of that task does not just fall on the shoulders of the clergy either.  Every Christian must be active and intentional about spreading the Gospel through their words, their actions, the way in which they loves others, especially their enemies.  I’m not going to ever tell you to go door to door and sell Christ.  I am going to remind you of the call to love your God, love your neighbor, and love your enemies.  When you embody love, the same kind of love that necessitated God dying on the cross for you for your salvation, people cannot stand by unaffected.  In fact, they often cannot see you without thinking and commenting on it.  Precisely because it is so otherworldly, God’s love manifested on earth affects even the most staunch unbeliever.  That is why so many knew the name and actions of Mother Teresa. 

So go forth, bear fruit, make disciples for Christ, fill the earth with love, and you shall subdue it. 

Prayer:
Maker and Creator of Heaven and Earth,
We have heard your call to bear fruit.
You rain down your love like water from Heaven,
May it nourish and encourage us to do as you will it to be.
Before the Ascension, we received a commission;
Let us take Christ’s words into our heart,
Meditate on them and act.
When our lives reflect your love for us,
Who can stand by and not be moved by the power of your Grace?
Assist us in doing our part,
And we shall trust in you to complete the task.
So that when Christ returns,
He will see that our hands have not been idle, nor our lips silent.
All honor and glory to you, Almighty God.
Now and Forever.
Amen.
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