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Withering or Flourishing?


As I was reading the Bible (Jeremiah 23), I came across a passage dealing with Israel’s fruitlessness, and God’s promise to raise up new shepherds who would bear fruit. So this raises some issues with me that I have been contemplating in recent weeks concerning what fruifulness is.
In some Christian circles Fruitfulness is thought of in terms of how many disciples a person or group is makking. If I measure my own fruitfulness by this measure… well, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself to be bursting with fruit. But, I am hoping that the reality of Christ’s fruitfulness in me goes beyond such a measure. One thing is for certain- I don’t want to make up truths or try to “re-write” scripture to try to justify myself, or my actions! Christ has already settled my score and done all the justifying that will ever need doing! Praise be to God.

Jesus promised that if we abide in Him we will bear fruit and most Christians want that. So, what do you think? Is it worth defining what fruitfulness is? Can we judge our own fruitfulness? Should we? How?
I feel that this is a very important thing to look at: what is fruitfulness? Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree and it withered. Why, and what does that mean? Adam was commanded to “be fruitful and multiply”. That scripture was obviously talking about bearing children, but did it have more implied than just the kids? I think so, because in Jeremiah 23, God speaks of fruitfulness again. This time, speaking of the people of God, who He will bring forth, care for, and they will be a fruitful people. This is supposed to be us, but what should it look like. I have some ideas, but I really want to search this out over the next couple of weeks.
How about you? Do you have any thoughts about what fruitfulness is supposed to look like? Please leave a comment and share what you think that means. Thanks.

2 Responses to “Withering or Flourishing?”

  1. Tara
    July 23rd, 2006 13:35

    Paul talks of the great mystery of marriage; not only in the holy symbol of covenant marriage between man and woman, but of course of the greater reality it points to, which is God’s heart desire and purpose for humans. For us, as the redeemed church, to be so intimately connected with Him that out of that intimacy life is created and fruit is born. This is, like you said, so much more than bearing children (though that is no small thing!). To me, it speaks of life bringing forth life out of intimate communion. Can we put a box on what that will look like? God commissioned man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”; Jesus reinterated this in the Great Commission in Mt 28; making disciples who will make disciples…the principle of Life bearing. Fruit is meant to reproduce itself in likeness, for the glory of God and nourishment of creation. Since we are body, soul and spirit, this fruitfullness, (for the glory of God and good of creation) must translate into all we are. As we grow in intimacy with God, life is poured into us, the miracle of incarnation, Love bringing forth new life takes place within these clay vessels filled with His Glory. That Life flows out into the dry places of this earth, the spirits, souls and bodies of people who were created for His Glory…and they to in turn, respond to His Betrothal, enter intimate union with Him, and become Life givers as they choose to abide in Him as He abides in us. It’s a mystery, it’s the miracle of Life, it’s so much more than children or discipleship; it’s who we ARE, the very purpose for which God created us; to be His Beloved Bride, intimately and powerfully partnering with Him, bearing Life giving fruit in ways beyond our wildest imaginations.

    nuff said,

  2. FIXEDEYES; John Clancy and Rachel Clancy » Journal Archive » Over-population?
    September 4th, 2006 01:11

    […] A couple of months ago, John had been reading somewhere in the Bible where it says “be fruitful and multiply”. As he read it, he talked to me how it he felt like it had to do with our spiritual lives—at least at this point in the ages of time—and wrote a short post about it. I immediately felt uncomfortable twinges. It’s true that when I read the Bible, I don’t believe that all of it is speaking to us completely in the literal sense, such as our need to follow the many laws listed in Leviticus concerning animal sacrifice and other such things. You could say it was part of the Old Covenant, though I think that there is something to be learned from reading through it anyway, but not something I’ll get into at The sweetness of new life. the moment. However, this particular verse concerning fruitfulness was one that I wanted to take in the more literal sense. After all, I have always loved children and after having watched a new one be born into the world and then going through the same miraculous event of birthing a new life myself, my heart is greatly moved at the beauty of life. However, in our culture (speaking of the Western culture of North America), it seems that if you go for more than two or three, that you are considered irresponsible and a strain on “the system”. Some even speak of having more than a small handful of children as contributing to the problem of over-population. This sentiment is not only found in the Western world; there is communist China that permits only one child and levies a large fee on any who would exceed the quota. Abortions are provided at no cost. And then you have India. India, too, has the view that two children are the ideal and many of the upper class and middle class people consider anything more to be a result of the uneducated poor and “lower” working class people. Has the beauty of life and family become so classified as this? I know a handful of people who have over six children. Jokes are often made about these people behind their backs: no self-control, too Biblically literal to use birth control, small bed, and the list varies and goes on. I am sincerely angered by this. It is true that not all large families are living in love and the warmth of community, but I think you will find this more often than not. Though I felt that this sentiment against large families was wrong and mainly unjust, I didn’t know of any clear basis or foundation for me believing this. I pushed it to the back of my mind for the time and simply rested in contentment with my dear Aria and the wee one causing my belly to expand. However, sometime last week I was reminded of the issue through something I read, and I felt that God immediately gave me some insight into the issue that I feel compelled to share. Enjoying life: fellowship, friendship, and family around the breakfast table in Muncie, Indiana–Dec. 2005. So much of life is not as literal and rational as we (at least in the West) make it out to be. I believe that a couple who sincerely loves one another with a deep commitment, and who teach their children the truly important things in life that have absolutely nothing to do with money, status, and higher education, who raise them to be people who show love and compassion, are doing more for this world and for society than most people could ever fathom. Society should be praising such individuals for contributing so much to the true health of their nation, and to the greater betterment of the world. Could it be that a large family such as this could be doing so much for society and the environment than a family with one or two children who are given every material thing they could ever want, but are not shown that type of love and commitment in their parents’ marriage and are not taught what is truly important in this life? We cannot be the judge of who is going to change the world for the better and who is going to tear it down. After these musings, the thought came to my mind, “How does God view new life?” That question causes my heart to warm and a smile to come to my face because I know without a doubt that he delights in it. Another harder question: “Does God think that overpopulation is a problem?” As I spent a few moments pondering this, I felt a peace that it simply was not an issue to him and that the whole topic, in fact, causes a sort of righteous indignation to rise up within him—that same sort of indignation that is so clearly portrayed in Psalm 18. Could it be that overpopulation is simply a myth borne from people who are full of greed and selfishness over than own material wants? The following two statistics are second-hand knowledge passed to me, so I can’t guarantee their absolute truth, but I willingly believe them. The first statement is that you can fit every person in this entire world, all 6 billion of us, standing up, side-by-side, within the city limits of Jacksonville, Florida. The second statement is that if you took all the people of the world, divided them into families of four, and gave them one square acre each, they would all fit within the state of Texas. Kind of kicks the theory of over-population in the butt. Some countries, like India, are far more crowded than others, like Canada, whose entire population is less than the state of California. The distribution of wealth is also on a drastically sliding scale. There are many injustices when it comes to the rich and the poor. But let’s not knock life. Life is a gift from God and we should embrace it and look on it as beautiful instead of sighing and thinking, “Oh, man. Here’s another mouth to feed.” […]

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