“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:24-26 ESV).
In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8), He speaks of seeds which “fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6 ESV). I’ve been considering a few scriptures about seeds over the last couple of days, and it has occurred to me that oftentimes in our zeal we declare to non-believers that their lives would be so much better if they became Christians. There’s fire insurance, joy, and life is just all-around beautiful!
But if you’ve been a Christian for more than a couple of hours, then you know that it isn’t all joy and beauty. We still live in a fallen world where bad, even evil, things happen. And they happen to Christians as well as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics and Pagans. While our spirits are preserved, we are still susceptible to sickness and disease. We are still susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and any number of other natural disasters. We are not exempt from the challenges and difficulties that face all inhabitants of planet Earth.
Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (ESV). We are seeds! And as the lead text reads, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We will all face suffering and death, but these are necessary, for if we do not we neither bear fruit nor rise in glory.
We do a disservice to non-Christians when we fail to tell them, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” We all want to see people come to faith in Jesus, but we must be careful to first till the soil, fertilize the ground of their hearts, taking care to prepare them for the struggles a young plant must endure. We reap the greatest harvest when we plant the seed of the Gospel in well prepared soil.
**Image from http://ideas.time.com/2013/02/18/is-it-a-crime-to-plant-a-seed/