Multiplication and Division

miracle-loaves-fishes-james-tissot-82990-printQuick math quiz: if you start with the number two, and add two to it, what do you get? Now, what if you multiply two times two? Same answer, right? Well done!

What if you repeat that pattern: addition versus squaring? Now the numbers are different. If you repeat the original pattern just three times, you have eight by addition and 256 by multiplication. Amazing, isn’t it?

I thought of this recently with reference to the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 (men, plus their families) and 4000. The miracle is not that there was an addition of food to the equation: no one ran to the grocery store last minute to pick up some extra food. The miracle was the multiplication that occurred in Jesus’ breaking of the bread and fish.

Pastor Shirish Ahaley from India has pointed out this situation with apples: if you take one apple to eat, you have one apple. But if you look at the apple as a food producer, you notice that each apple has many seeds, each of which can produce many apples. The multiplication possibilities are endless.

We love this picture, and not only for the play on words with “seed” and “SEED.” Too often we look at ourselves, and at others, as apples, when really we are bearers of seeds. In the earliest creation, in Genesis 1, God creates everything to bear fruit after its own kind: plants produce more of the same plants, animals likewise, and humans. We are built to multiply.

The question then becomes, of course, what are we multiplying? Jesus noted that the Pharisees produced fruit after their own kind: “You cross land and sea to make a convert, and when you do you make him twice the child of hell you are.” (Matthew 23.15) Things we don’t like are built to multiply as well: spiders, snakes, stinging nettles.

One key final point to ponder: we all have different seeds inside us. God did not create a world of apples, nor a world of elephants, nor even a world of humans. He created a world filled with incredible diversity and made it all to multiply. Evangelist Luis Palau once said, “Christians are a lot like manure. If you pile them together they stink. But if you spread them around they do a lot of good.” That’s deep. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.)

Our encouragement is to discover the seeds God has placed inside you and to pursue the multiplication of those seeds. We have seeds for empowerment, and we seek to encourage livelihood group members and network partners to hear the voice of God and respond. And we have seeds for development, and we strive to come alongside churches who have the vision for transformation of individuals and whole communities.

What seeds are inside you, and are they resulting in multiplication? Are you holding them inside or releasing them to be planted somewhere, to grow there to maturity? (For more, read Rose Brewer’s article on giving in the November Light & Life Magazine — which is also the 2016 SEED/ICCM Giving Guide.)

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