“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24
These are the words of Jesus this past weekend from John’s gospel. Of course, it speaks to what his life (as a grain of wheat) must and will do. His life will die and will produce an abundance of fruit and life! The implication is that in the process of dying, like a seed, an opening up/dying of the old reveals and gives birth to the new/fruit. Jesus’ life and death will do just what this passage predicts. Instead of dying and diminishing, the life of Christ will be broken open and will increase, spread, and become more. Instead of being contained in human flesh, Jesus will become available for all. In the very process of dying to himself so that he may enter into deeper communion with God, he becomes more. So must we.
I will think of my relationship with God as one that needs fine tuning or, more accurately, an overhaul! I need to get fixed, made better, need some additional good qualities, or I just need to be “perfect” before the One who created me. I can’t go before God looking like this! A sinner! Incomplete! Imperfect! Broken! Ashamed! Not using all of my giftedness! Angry! Jealous! Furious! Hateful! I need to get rid of all of these blemishes and imperfections in order to even consider entering into a deeper relationship with God.
Or do I? Jesus seems to be telling us that in order to enter into greater intimacy with God, all we really need to do is….die. Let ourselves enter into the death process? When we die, all of our human machinations will fall away - the way we scheme, plot and negotiate our way through relationships and life. These will be unnecessary. What will be needed is the ability to let ourselves die - to all that gets in the way of a deeper relationship with God. All the things that prevent us from being truly ourselves. All the things that keep our true selves locked inside out of fear or rejection.
Don’t we realize that if we are created in the image and likeness of God, there is that divine seed within us that is waiting to be born through our death while still living?! Allowing the death process to start long before we actually die will give us the opportunity to experience a newness of life in ourselves and in the world we live in! But, allowing ourselves to start entering into the death process is not easy. We have lots of “stuff” to get through to get there.
The shame of not being good enough or just plain not being enough is the thing that can prevent us from dying to self. We feel we need to be more in order to be before God. Maybe Jesus is trying to tell us the very opposite. We need to be less. We need to die. We need to die to self and to the things that we think God wants us to be, so that we can begin to start shedding the “weight” of this stuff, and begin to see the seed within, the seed that is truly a reflection of you, of me, and of God. A seed that is just waiting to be born!
What do we need to die to during this Lenten season so that we can become more of who God calls us to be? How might we start dying to this, allowing ourselves to become less of that stuff, and more of the stuff of God?