Today I harvest seed beans. Some of the thin, brown pods crackle and pop open as I pick them, scattering their precious seeds over the cold, black earth. I try to hunt down all the speckled ivory seeds. Any I miss will come up as volunteers in next year.
Seeds are amazing little things. God made them in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Then He equipped them to spread in different ways. There are spring-loaded seeds that spray everywhere when the pod dries; clinging seeds that ride piggy-back from place to place; parachute seeds that ride the wind to remote locations; and seeds that simply fall. Some germinate readily while others are more reluctant. Jack Pine cones, for instance, stay tightly closed until the heat from a forest fire forces them open. They drop their seeds and begin reforesting the scorched earth.
Believers, like seeds, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. They also have different approaches to spreading their faith seeds. Some are bold, springing at every opportunity to proclaim the good news. Some build solid relationships with non-believers, demonstrating and declaring Christ’s love as they move through life together. Others fly to the remote corners of the world, carrying the gospel seeds with them. Many plant their seeds close to home, right in their own neighborhoods. Sadly, there are too many jack pines in the church (myself included) — reluctant souls who only sow God’s Word when the heat is on.
Here’s one thing every seed has in common. It must die to live. When a seed germinates, a shoot breaks through the seed’s outer coat. A vivacious green stem pushes through the dark soil and unfurls two tender leaves. The plant lifts its leafy arms toward the sunlight. If properly nourished, it will grow, and bloom, and set seeds of its own. And the original seed? It gave its life force to the new plant and the outer husk rotted away. So, it died to its old self and took on a new living nature.
Here’s one thing we, as Christ followers, have in common. We must die to live. Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24) What a paradox!
Frankly, sometimes it scares me. Okay, in one sense I lost my life for Christ’s sake the day I put my faith in Him. Paul put it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Christ’s new life in me shot through this fleshly husk and began growing. My life force began nourishing the spirit rather than the flesh. I took on a new living nature that’s vivacious and fruitful.
So, my flesh was crucified, in one sense, a long time ago. But it still needs to be crucified regularly. I must make daily choices whether to nurture the fleshly husk or the new green shoot. My lack of faith sometimes leaves me feeling like I’m fighting for my life, fearful of complete annihilation. I must remind myself God’s way is the better way; that contrary to all human reasoning, dying to myself brings life. Each time I choose to honor God, rather than feed my flesh, the husk fades a bit more, and the eternal shoot grows.