I am reading through the Bible in 2010. I have done this many times over the years and greatly enjoy it. More than anything else it begins to put the whole Bible together for me-seeing its themes and storyline. So I thought I would throw in a few observations along the way.
One of the things that stood out to me in my reading was from Genesis 1:11-12. In these verses the Lord God creates vegetation and fruit trees-all with seed bearing quality-meaning the ability to reproduce is inherent in the plant or tree, according to its kind. Both of these notions become biblical themes and are picked up in the gospels of the New Testament-reproduction and fruit bearing. You see this especially in the Upper Room Discourse of John 13-17 and the Great Commission passages.
There is a lot of talk these days about “organic ministry.” The usage primarily means that ministry is done in such a way that growth and development is analogous to that of a living organism. It is not an artificual structure that is put in place-but a pattern that matches what would arise naturally rather than being manufactured. The hoped for result is that ministry is sustainable where it is planted-it exists and thrives within the community that has been inseminated by the gospel and according to its kind.
This seems to me to reflect the created order as well in Genesis 1-each plant and tree contains the very elements necessary to reproduce and bear fruit. It is natural that they would reproduce given the right environment and conditions.
In Italy right now we are thinking and talking a lot about “greenhouse” growth versus indigenous growth. Often in ministry we see the gospel take root in someone’s life and we immediately transplant that person to another location to help them grow an develop-rather than helping them grow naturally within their own environment where the gospel actually has the best opportunity to reproduce naturally. A couple of things are necessary. First, that we are actually planting the right seed-the true, biblical gospel in all of its power and fullness. Second, that we walk closely with people as they seek to live our their new faith in the field from which they came. I don’t want to minimize the fact that there could be a few weeds that need pulling for someone to thrive.
Our faith goal in Italy is to actually implant the gospel into existing relational networks-so that it might natually take root, bear fruit and reproduce in the most natural way possible. As I read Genesis this seems to match well the created order-every form of vegetation and tree had the ability to bear fruit and reproduce built in to it. And while the fall of man has made that endeavor more difficult-the natural pattern is still observable-and possibly more effective.