Grains of Wheat
"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)
In northern NH, it is hard to believe that spring is coming, but I have faith that sooner or later, the snow piles will melt and green sprouts will poke up through the cold earth. Jesus talks about wheat, but for me the analogous story begins with garlic. Last fall, with hope for the spring, I planted cloves of garlic in my garden so that they could begin to develop over the winter, storing up energy for a spring growth spurt. It is easier to think about the new growth, than it is to think about what that garlic clove has to go through in order to grow. The outer shell has to break open, allowing nutrients and water to enter, before new green growth can emerge.
Jesus was pointing out that before we can grow and develop, something in us also has to break apart and change. To gain something new, we have to give up something old. The Christians in John's community had to break relationships with their old friends before they could become part of the new Christian community. For us, to develop new ways of behaving or relating to people, we have to give up the old ways. For a church community to develop new ways of relating to the people around them, they often have to give some of the the old practices that were internally focused. Growing is never comfortable and sometimes causes actual pain.
"Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25)