Weekly Reflections

Seed in the cupboard or seed in the ground? 4 April

Seed in the cupboard or seed in the ground?

Easter is the story of a man who talked about plants. If you want to grow flowers, or wheat or tomatoes, you have to plant a seed. And the seed has to die. If you keep the seed alive in a cupboard nothing grows. If the seed dies in the ground, you get lots of fruit.

Jesus said life is like that. At least his was.

He said some people want to keep their life safe in the cupboard. He talked about people who loved their life, protected and preserved it and made it safe and comfortable. That, he said, was the way to lose it.

Is this a strange idea? Or does it make sense? If you don’t use a thing for its intended purpose it may lose the ability to do it (like mental arithmetic). There is some sense in a utilitarian view of the puzzle. What is our life for? Is it for ourselves? Is life one of the inalienable rights of human beings? Modern discussions tend to omit the preceding phrase in the Declaration of Independence, which is “endowed by their Creator”.  That makes a difference. The right to life is asserted in Genesis9.5, on the grounds that humans are created in the image of God.

But the previous eight chapters make very clear that the life of humans was intended to serve God’s purposes. They were not free to wander around doing whatever pleased themselves. Their happiness consisted in doing what God had prepared for them to do.

Jesus said the way to happiness and life that lasts is to abandon the self-preserved life. Hate it, he said. Hate the life that is centred on us and our happiness and safety and comfort. Abandon it in favour of following Jesus.

That’s what his life was like. He did what the Father had sent him to do. He planted his life in the ground and God raised it to life again. But he was also planting our life in the ground of death. He acted for us. And in doing so invited us to follow him in his death.

So we could follow him to eternal life.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.”