By, Isam Itson III
Genesis 1:28 – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,… ”
God purposed that other people carry our work beyond our own efforts and into the future. From generation to generation, more humans are meant to extend the wise and thoughtful cultivation of the earth and consideration for the needs of other living creatures across the globe. Of course, we only obtain more people by having children.
Under ideal circumstances, a man and woman come together as husband and wife with the understanding that they will commit their energy and resources to providing for any children they have together. It takes years for a child to learn how to effectively interact with their fellow humans, earn the trust of the members of their local community, and master the skills and subtleties of a trade. All of this prepares them to take their place as trustworthy members of society, who are equipped to successfully raise children of their own. As they grow, the number of adults who nurture them grows. Extended family members, teachers, employers, and community leaders all provide the guidance and protection vital to the success of our children’s growth and maturity.
This dynamic extends beyond child rearing. When we join a new social group, we are dependent on someone caring enough to teach us the values and expectations of the group members. When we start a new job, people take time to train us so that we can successfully fulfill our assigned responsibilities. The more closely we identify with and take responsibility for one another, the more confidence and integrity we experience in relationship to one another. The same is true of the church.
As new members join our congregations, we need to help them find their way in their new life. As Jesus Christ told his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” We welcome them into our congregations, symbolized in baptism, and teach them how to live as followers, or disciples, of Jesus Christ. We help them learn what it means to love God with their whole being and to honor God’s love for others. As our disciples, we call them alongside us as we go about our daily lives. We open our hearts and minds to them and, over time, they learn how to faithfully represent God in their own social circles. In the process, their unique challenges and insights influence us and add to our wisdom and life experience. In this way, the influence of God spreads farther and farther around the world, and penetrates our communities more and more deeply. There is no other way to fill the earth with the love and wisdom of God.
1. How did adults, other than my parents, help influence who I am today?
2. How have I discipled others coming behind or alongside me?
3. What are some specific ways that I can invite people to come alongside me as I go about my daily life?