It starts with a seed…just about everything you are touching starts with a seed. Did you ever think that? The cotton you are wearing started as a seed. The paper you are holding started as a seed. The wood that decorates our sanctuary, the poly fibers that make up the seating were a fossil fuel that many eons ago were once plants that started with – you guessed it – a seed. The food you have consumed today either came directly from a seed, or was fed by a plant, which came from – you guessed it – a seed!
Throughout the Bible, there is another kind of seed that everything starts with. It is a seed of faith. That seed of faith is planted in each person; and according to Jesus’ parable, when a farmer scatters seed, some lands on rocky soil, and the birds come and eat it. Some lands among thorns, and is choked out. Some lands in shallow soil, and while it springs up quickly, has no depth of root, and withers. And still others land on good soil, and take root; those produce a harvest 30, 60, even 100 times!
What kind of soil does Christ find in your heart? I pray it is the last, the good soil!
What does it mean to take root?
Taking root means putting your FAITH in CHRIST
Our hope is not in faith, it’s in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source and the satisfaction of our lives. We are constantly encouraged to examine our faith, but that exercise is often rooted in self-trust. The underlying assumption is that it’s my faith that earns God’s smile, completely forgetting that faith itself is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10). Let us never forget that this seed of faith comes from God; that without God’s providence of this seed of faith, we could not IN ANY WAY come to faith on our own! We can’t trust our faith, it’s often feeble and frail. What we can trust is a strong, faithful, merciful Savior. Our hope is not in faith. It’s in Christ.
Hosea 10:12 “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’
Putting our faith in Christ means that we trust completely in the work of Christ on the cross to save us; that we are born again by God’s grace, and God’s grace alone. God has planted a seed within us that takes root in the fertile soil prepared for it.
Taking root means DYING to SELF
I picture Jesus walking along the road with his disciples, and seeing a farmer scattering wheat seed over fresh-tilled soil. And he uses it as a teaching moment; he says, John 12:24 (CEV) I tell you for certain that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat.
In saying this, he was teaching not only about His crucifixion and resurrection, but about how we must live, and die, in order to truly live.
The fact is, we’re all broken. Each of us tries very hard to conceal our brokenness; we smooth over the cracks in our souls with all kinds of things, trying to fill them in, smooth them over, and pretend they are not there. You can’t heal a wound by pretending it isn’t there!
We must die to ourselves in order that the seed of faith might find the broken soil to take root. It is ONLY by dying to our selves, our overbearing need to pretend we’re ok, that we will find true healing, growth, and hope in Christ!
Theologian Francis Frangiopan said it well; God doesn’t want us BETTER, he wants us DEADER!
Taking root means DYING DAILY
Luke 9: 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
We tend to romanticize the cross; we gild it, gem it, bedazzle it; we emblazon it on tshirts and purses and wallets and the backs of our cars. But there is no escaping it: the cross is a symbol of death! I’ve often wondered what people would think if we put a noose or an electric chair, both symbols of execution, as symbols on our cars, houses, purses, and jewelry. Imagine an “old Sparky” prominently displayed in the sanctuary on the wall!
Yet, we are called to daily pick up this symbol of shame, and carry it, reminding us of OUR cross that HE carried. We are to die daily, to choose to die to Christ so that we might find our whole life in HIM. And whenever we pick up our cross, let me remind you that it is a two-fisted operation. You cannot hold onto anything in YOUR life and still carry the cross. You cannot hold onto bitterness, or rage, or anger, or regret, or pride, or prejudice, or anything that belongs to self and still pick up the cross. The cross must be picked up with TWO hands.
This is the first in a new sermon series called Roots, Shoots, and Fruits, and in the next several weeks, I will be laying out the Biblical model for what it means to be a Christian, to be a part of Christ’s body, the church, and specifically what it means to be a Methodist in Elm Springs. Many have taken the first step in their faith, and have taken root: confessed their faith in Christ, and have joined the body of believers. Still others are taking that next faithful step, and growing shoots: growing in faith, becoming disciples in study, service, giving, and witness. And then there are still others who are at the point where they are bearing fruit: the grace of God has enabled them to grow so that they might help others grow in THEIR faith. Where do you find yourself? Are you just taking root, are you growing shoots, and reaching for the light of Christ, are you bearing fruit for the Kingdom?
As we receive communion today, I want to remind you: on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he took bread: made from wheat that was grown from a seed; that wheat was broken and crushed in order to produce this bread. He gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body; it is broken and crushed for you. Remember.”
And he took the cup, filled with the product of grapes, themselves the product from seed, which were crushed and bruised in order to produce the red wine Jesus lifted up. Again, he gave it to his disciples, and said, “this is the new covenant, in my blood, poured out of my broken flesh for you. Remember.”
(proceed to service of communion)
Questions for Reflection: How is the seed of faith God planted in you? Has it produced much fruit? Is it time for a new “sowing”?