On June 20, 1782, our founding fathers selected the bald eagle as the national bird. The bald eagle has since gone through some trying times. When we moved to Minnesota in 1983, the bald eagle was on the endangered species list. The recovery of bald eagles in Minnesota is particularly impressive. By 2007, it was estimated the Minnesota population was over 2,300 pairs and continues to multiply!
I chose this one of three Oil paintings completed this summer featuring eagles. In a small way, recovery of the bald eagle population seems symbolic of our Thought: exponential.
I suggested in the last blog that family, as defined last week—natural or surrogate—historically and currently, provides our best opportunity to love and demonstrate life as a follower of Jesus—God’s way—in our personal sphere of influence.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people, We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-23 The Message
This brings the idea of exponential to mind. A simple definition is an exponential rate of increase becomes quicker and quicker as the thing that increases becomes larger. Cells that reproduce, reproduce cells that reproduce, etc., etc. On a graph this may look like a flat line in the beginning. As quantity doubles with time, the line seems to go straight up ‘off the chart’.
It’s been 2,000 years since God the son—Jesus—appeared with the message from God the Father that the Kingdom arrived with Jesus. The invitation was, and still is, given to enter into this kingdom life now and for eternity. God the Spirit enters into Jesus followers enabling each to continue extending that invitation. Listen to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ words to his followers.
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of this age.” Matthew 28:18-20 The Message
If we start with just 12 followers of Jesus in the first century and if Jesus’ instructions are followed, where would this kind of exponential multiplication of Jesus followers be in twenty centuries? How could you recognize them? Jesus said in Matthew 7:16, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” By what ‘fruit’ will followers of Jesus be recognized? The Apostle Paul explains in Galatians 5:22, 23a NIV: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.’
Shouldn’t we expect local, national and international news to be filled with accounts of marvelous things happening around the world, attributed to exponential multiplication of love emanating from Jesus followers worldwide? I should think so. But, I’m seldom hearing that kind of news. Why? Possible supporting reasons include:
- I may be misapplying exponential
- Many ‘Christians’ are, not yet, actually a follower of Jesus
- Actual followers of Jesus have too few models and instruction
- Much good is happening but new media generally doesn’t cover it
Response? I may be in the category of ‘endangered species’ as a spiritually reproductive follower of Jesus, but I can increasingly live before my ‘family’—natural or surrogate—in faithfulness to the will of the Spirit of God’s desires to work through my life.
God is in charge of the increase—perhaps even exponentially—as he desires!
“A new command I give you, Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35
 Here are two YouTube sites for further background on ‘exponential’:
“Exponential growth: A Common sense explanation” [5.23 minutes]
“Human Population Growth, Crash Course Ecology #3” [10:53 minutes]