Not Abiding Alone

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)

seedsJesus said these words to Andrew and Philip when they came to Him saying that Greeks at the feast wanted to meet Him. Our Lord’s time had come for His Passion. The fruit of His labor was at hand. Jesus had no time for any more meetings. Jesus speaks of His glorification as a grain of wheat being planted and unless it “descends into the earth and dies it remains alone.” I never really caught the “alone” part of the verse before. I checked the Greek word used in the New Testament and it is monos. We use it in the English language as a prefix for words like monogram, monopoly, and monologue meaning to exist to itself, or excluding another. Jesus is not just talking about His death and resurrection as something He does on our behalf but a reality we become part of. The seed dies and produces fruit that causes shoots to sprout forth upwards from the earth. The top of the wheat grass produces a multitude of new seeds that the farmer uses to multiply his crops. Jesus could have stayed around and shared the Gospel message to the possible new Greek supporters of His ministry but He had more important work to do; to enter into human life in every conceivable way, even into death so that He no longer existed as life outside of His creation. He entered into it at His Incarnation and sanctified it with His presence; but gives true life abundantly by giving His life to it and simultaneously destroying the power of death. It is not just something imparted; it is something ontological that has to do with our very being. God is sharing His life us. No, He is offering His life for us even now. Eternally, once and for all.  We are the seeds on the top of the sprout of Christ’s death and resurrection. We no longer live apart from Christ;  His saving work has produced a community of “Christians” who partake of the well-springs of Life in Him.

Herein lies the basic definition of a Christian community. To go from the top of the wheat grass as a seed and to descend. We are to allow Christ’s life to germinate and sprout within us. This can only happen by existing apart from ourselves; not mono-lithically. A Christian community is about living for the other and “hating” our own lives. This word “hate” in the New Testament is misunderstood in today’s jargon. It does not mean to detest or despise ourselves. The best understanding is to “love less.” We must descend so others may be lifted up. Allowing the very life of Christ in us showing forth by how we relate to others. Christ didn’t convert the Greeks in the gospel of John with fancy words or impressing them with His power. He drew them to Himself by being lifted up on the Cross (vs. 32).

This is a hard message for us Americans who grow taught to expect “things” because we “deserve” them. Bumper stickers with the creed, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Accumulation of wealth and prestige become something we strive for without even putting much thought into where it is leading us. I think the current global economic crisis gives us a partial glimpse. How many times a day we are acting out of our own best interest; looking out for our own self-preservation. This way of life, Christ says, leads to a loss of our own life. Quite like a seed that sits on a shelf. By being preserved it is denied its true potential and reason for existing in the first place. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: