'God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.' (Genesis 1:28, NIV)
'Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.' (Psalm 128:1-2, NIV)
'"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."' (Luke 6:43-45, NIV)
'"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."' (John 15:1-2. NIV)
'I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me...' (Philippians 1:20-22, NIV)
Occupy Worthy Strivings
As a patron of the social-networking Internet site called Facebook, I recently posted some "good news" updates for friends and family regarding my two sons, Brian and Cameron: 1) My teenage son Cameron (who breathes all things baseball) and his Winterball baseball team completed a perfect season (with a 14-0 win/loss record) by capping it with a 9-2 victory in a championship game on November 19, 2011; and 2) My adult son Brian was ordained as a full-time pastor at my home church by the pastoral staff and elders in a special ceremony on November 20, 2011. (Brian had been a volunteer in our church youth ministry for three years, while earning his Bachelors degree in ministry. Now, by the grace of God, he has a career as a pastor.) I am proud of my boys because they both suffered through challenges in pursuing what they loved to do most, each dedicating themselves to hard work and producing good fruit in the tasks they received. Cameron has had many coaches (including me) who worked with him on batting, fielding, base-running, and sportsmanship. The face-to-face interaction with coaches and players gave him a workplace of sorts in which to hone his skills and refine his abilities. Brian had many mentors---pastors, professors, and his Pop---who encouraged him in his field of ministry, offering guidance, support, and assistance while modeling and teaching him basic principles of shepherding a flock (which is synonymous with being a pastor.)
Please forgive me the indulgence of boasting about my boys. I hope their good examples will help the reader consider the vast distinction between the artificial world created by the technology of the Internet and the hands-on world we all live in, in reality. In the artificial realm of Facebook you can befriend total strangers without ever meeting them face-to-face. Patrons may engage in adult fantasies, play games, enter contests, host or participate in group discussions, share personal aspects of their lives with others, pass on untested (and often false) information, and on occasion choose to meet other patrons in person. But for all of the "good" Facebook may potentially have accomplished in broadening communications among its users, it has a very dark side. Facebook has been misused by predators, murderers, terrorists, spammers, and hackers who have no one's best-interests at heart, and prey upon the fears, hatreds and ignorance of others or feed their own selfish and prurient desires. In this article, I take issue with an aspect of social-networking, which I can only describe as "superficial dimensionality." In other words, something appears to exist, but upon inspection lacks depth or real substance.
In my opinion, the most recent example of superficial dimensionality has been observed in the weeks-long, anti-capitalism rant of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. A contradiction in its own application, OWS participants have been witnessed in media coverage demonstrating while communicating with each other on conventions of capitalism (i.e., I-phones and Blackberries.) Clashes with and assaults upon police personnel by OWS agitators display a wanton disregard for peaceful protest and the lack of a substantive purpose for the protest in general. Yet the clashes with police are quickly and conveniently posted by OWS-friendlies through other conventions of capitalism (like YouTube) to recruit like-minded militants to join the street protests (as well as sway public opinion favorably toward OWS.) Still the behavior and crimes committed within the OWS camps belie a deficiency of judgment for many unhappy campers in the movement. (Perhaps it is prudent not to meet fellow OWS sympathizers one chats with on Facebook, in-person, at a protest?)
As a retired peace officer, I can attest to two basic personality types I regularly encountered in my 28-plus years of public service: Producers and consumers. Producers, generally speaking, were citizen taxpayers (working people) who reported crimes (either as victims or witnesses) because they contributed to and were members of a system of government (based on capitalism) they believed in. On the other hand, consumers were most often those who lived off of government entitlements (socialistic programs), distrusted the police with a passion (and called their neighbors "rats" for cooperating with cops), worked very little to produce anything, often paid no taxes into the system of government, and placed the greatest demands on police services because of the persistent criminal activity that seemed to regularly be generated from their neighborhoods. In other words, producers were busy about the business of working and producing good fruit; they saw the benefit of their hard labor as something which made the society better. However, consumers often were too fixated on consuming to see an advantage in becoming producers. Why produce at all when the government will reward you for consuming? The lure of receiving compensation without working for or earning it produces superficial dimensionality---something which may appear desirable on the surface, but lacks any depth, meaning, purpose or fulfillment.
I recognize that there are many who are willing to work but cannot find employment in these difficult economic times. Downturns, like upswings, are cyclical and eventually correct and balance themselves. However, blame-laying does not pay bills, put food on one's table, or solve unemployment. Camping for weeks-on-end in business districts in protest, while consuming precious tax dollars for police overtime to protect the public will not end unemployment either. I pray God will bless you with work soon, if you need a job. Please, do not give up hope. Pray. Ask God for help. Believe in Him. God is faithful.
There is no coincidence that the first two commands God gave mankind in the Genesis account were: "Be fruitful and increase in number." The imperative of God's commands is unmistakable. The order of priority in those two commands should not be overlooked either: Produce and increase. It is up to each of us to take up those first two commands and occupy worthy strivings in order to be fruitful (produce) and increase in number (live in abundance.) Allowing God to occupy our lives by faith produces abundant life. God is worthy of our praise and thanks. The good fruit of our striving is what pleases God.
Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Worthy Strivings? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Whatever you do choose God first.
(copyright 2011, Gregory Allen Doyle)