Have you ever compared a flower in bloom with the seed that produced it? The flower is tall, colorful, and moving with layers and textures. The seed is a tiny, hard kernel, motionless and plain. When comparing them, it’s hard to believe they are related, much less the same plant. It’s such a marvel! The tiny seed transforms into a luscious flower—the mysterious work of God!
If we protect the seed and keep it exactly as it exists, it will never become a flower. That is the temptation of “the way we’ve always done it.” We want to keep our lives, our churches, our world exactly the way they’ve always been. This impulse to preserve what we cherish, however, often does not lead to life or fruitfulness.
The seed must “die,” that is, break open, transform so completely into a flower that it is no longer recognizable as a seed. The seed relinquishes its current form in order to bear fruit in the world. This dying is an obedience to the mysterious work of God.
Jesus invites us to learn from the seed. We too can let ways of being in the world, ways of thinking, ways of being church die so they break open and are completely transformed by God to bear fruit in the world. Here’s the rub: the fruit the Spirit produces may look nothing like the seed we let die. It is beyond our imagining! It takes trust and courage. Yet the hard and amazing truth is that to bear fruit, we first have to let things die. Jesus calls us to follow his way of life and death—and Life.
God of big things and small, give us courage to let some of our current ways of being die. May we trust in your mysterious transforming power. Give us eyes to see the amazing fruit you produce. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow, but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In what areas of your life do you find yourself keeping score? How can you release that tendency?
• Read Psalm 51:1-12. What clutters your heart, making it unavailable for love?
• Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you fallen into the habit of faith rather than exhibiting authentic faith? What distinction do you draw between the two?
• Read John 12:20-33. How does the author’s illustration of the seed and flower help you understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
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