Having noted that essential
evidence of life which is organic relatedness, we naturally move
to the law of reproduction. When God united man and woman in
"the grace of life", He immediately said "Be
fruitful, and multiply".
Reproduction is the law, the
object, and the evidence of organic, living, relatedness. Someone
has said that 'Any organism that refuses right-of-way to life by
denying it facilities for transmission commits a breach of trust.
Nowhere is life a possession simply to be enjoyed. It is a
stewardship to be sacredly worked so as to be a centre of
transmitted energy.' A barren fig tree was taken by Christ as a
symbol of Israel's failure in trust, and was cursed. Israel
received, but did not pass on, and thereby lost its right to
continue. Over against the barren fig tree is set the Vine, the
chief concern of the Husbandman for which is "that it bear
much fruit". The trust was given to Israel as "children
of Abraham" to whom God said "In thy seed shall all
nations of the earth be blessed". All nature cries with a
loud voice that the God of creation is no believer in a 'No
thoroughfare', 'Cul-de-sac', 'Dead end' way of existence. Whether
it be the individual, the group, or the nation, 'No exit' is a
contradiction of a fundamental natural and spiritual law. An open
highway for life is the law of organic livingness.
Exclusivism is, sooner or
later, death and disintegration. The history of exclusivism is
the history of unending divisions, and those divisions have
always meant limitation and self-centredness. Strangle a limb and
it will die. Stop circulation and mortification will ensue. Be an
end in yourself, and you weave your own shroud.
The New Testament with its
supreme characteristic of newness is so clearly marked by
world-vision. If there is a tendency to become exclusive and
self-sufficient, then He who had said "Unto the uttermost
part of the world" will sovereignly order that "They
(were) scattered abroad everywhere". A veritable rising from
His throne (as seen by Stephen) will be to apprehend a
"chosen vessel... unto the nations", Heaven's battleaxe
against Judaistic prejudice, bigotry, and exclusivism. The
swinging of that axe meant hard hitting for carnal selfishness at
Corinth, and wrathful anathemas for Galatia. While, on the other
hand, the glorying and rejoicing over Thessalonica, Philippi,
Ephesus, etc., was because that through them the word and
testimony went into "All Asia" and Europe. It is not
enough to have interest in the nations, whether by praying, and
reporting, and reading. It is a matter of what we have to give.
What can we transmit? What will the nations get if they come to
us? Is there reproduction in the nations?
There can be no reproduction
without travail. This is the spirit of sacrifice.
Self-centredness, whether individual or collective, means
selfishness. There can be plenty of missionary interest born
of many various incentives, but rather pleasurable and romantic,
and not travail, anguish, and unto blood. There is a great
conflict for the universal, and this battle is often against that
pernicious, inveterate, incorrigible tendency to lower levels,
smaller measure, mediocrity, collective introspection.
The livingness of the
individual Christian, the local church; or any institution
bearing the name of Christian will be determined by what is found
through it of vital value beyond itself. A very successful
manoeuvre of the devil is to get a local company (or an
individual, for that) wasting long months or years, and great
spiritual vitality in occupation - if not obsession - with its
own affairs, and in so doing limiting its reproductiveness, its
'being fruitful and multiplying'. It really means loss of the
dominating and emancipating vision of the immensity of Christ.