In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so.
The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind.
God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis, Chapter 1 portions)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “after their kind” lately. I got hung up on it one morning as I was speed-reading through Genesis, chapter one, because the passage is way too familiar to me. Just as I was about to jump the chapter break and blaze into chapter 2, I was drawn up short by an unexpected question from Jesus.
“What kind of “offspring” are you reproducing?” Jesus asked.
In the physical realm everything reproduces after “it’s own kind.” Trees beget trees, plants yield plants, orcas birth orcas, owls produce owlets, sheep deliver sheep, creeping things produce more icky creeping things, and people bear people.
“Let’s see, I’m a people, so I beget people,” I answered.
Sometimes Jesus’ questions about the obvious make me laugh. Since 1982 I’ve begotten three people, all grown men now…
“That’s not what I’m asking,” he interrupted.
Luke 6:40 flew through my heart and my spirit instantly convicting me. “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
“Ack!” as my friend likes to say. Is Jesus my teacher? Am I becoming more like Jesus? What kind of fruit am I exporting to the lives of others around me? Is it the fruit of Galatians 5:22, 23?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Or am I exporting the fruit of the flesh found in the verses just above in Galatians 5:19-21?
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”
Well, I gave a lot of that stuff up earlier in life, so I felt safe from any confrontation that might be coming. Jesus wanted to go a little deeper, so I deftly sidestepped his advances hoping to divert his attention.
He pursued. I resisted. Dumb idea; I know better.
As believers in Jesus, we’re in a bit of a catch-22. We’re not only students who are learning about Christ and our faith; we’re also teachers of others who constantly watch our lives.
I came to faith in Jesus almost 40 years ago. Following my decision to trust Jesus, I was mentored consistently by a group of women for two years. They taught me how to read and study the Bible for myself, how to memorize large passages of scripture, how to share my faith, and how to pray. Later, youth pastors and other instructors taught me how to teach the Bible, how to preach, how to mentor, how to organize, how to serve others, how to fast, and how to deny myself.
Only suffering taught me why any of that mattered.
As I sat before the Lord that morning reading Genesis 1, my heart wrenched with the reality that I spend a lot more time and energy reproducing a “how to follow Jesus faith” in others, instead of teaching them why Jesus matters in the first place. A “how to” faith is external; it’s about conformity. A “why it matters” faith forces everyone to have an intimate, personal encounter with the Holy Spirit – who loves to intersect us with the unexpected and the supernatural.
So, how about you – what are you exporting to the lives of those around you?
I love it that you want us to be audacious in our faith. You want us to be bold and fearless as we follow you. You have given us everything we need to be successful, yet we still fail. Today, Lord, would you lead each of us into a personal encounter with your Holy Spirit that forever alters way we see Jesus? Give us new eyes to see you as you are and may we become more like Jesus today!
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.