Alright, I am just warning you right off the bat, this one is going to be hippy dippy. It is going to have some eastern spiritual flair. It is going to sound sort of Hindu, and that is alright. Hindus actually have some pretty sweet thoughts on resurrection and rebirth, which also happens to be one of the core tenants of Christian Spirituality. I see no reason why we cannot learn from one another as we embark further on this journey of life, continually seeking more understanding when it comes to the divine, ourselves, and just what to make of it all. So, without further ado, let us discuss seeds, death, and life.
Think of a seed. We plant it in the ground, give it some water, and some how, through some sort of metamorphosis, it becomes something completely and utterly different than it was; a plant. A plant that then produces fruit, which then produces more seeds, which, in turn, produces more plants. But let’s take a closer look at that seed shall we? Symbolically, what is happening is we are burying the seed in the ground. We are putting it to death. Through that death, abundant life springs forth. The cycle that life seems to follow is that death leads to life, which is somewhat backwards to a normal line of thinking. Isn’t death the opposite of life? Well, look at the example of the seed, through that death, it produces a plant that produces fruit. If it happens to be a some sort of edible fruit, (Say an apple or a pepper) then when the fruit is pulled away from it’s life force (it dies) it produces energy and life for whatever consumes it, be it humans or animals or even the minerals within the dirty from which it once grew. The death brings about life.
Look at the seasons around us. Through the death of vegetation in fall and the symbolic burial of vegetation in winter (sometimes literal if you live in cold reaches of the planet) new life springs forth in the Spring and bears more fruit to spread in the summer, only to repeat the process again. Year in and year out, the cycle of death and rebirth saturates absolutely everything that we as spiritual beings partake in.
Looking at it from a Christian point of view, baptism also parallels the cycle of death into life. Baptism is a symbolic action of being buried underneath the waves of the water, putting to death our spiritual selves only to reborn within the spiritual life that Christ offers us. Even Christ himself was an example of death into life. According to scripture, though Jesus died upon the cross, He rose again in full life 3 days later. Now this is where it gets interesting.
Jesus has shown what it means to let our own lives be put to death so that we might bring about life both literally and symbolically. Jesus has shown what it means to put our own selfish desires to death. Jesus has shown what it means to process through death, because death does need to be processed sometimes. Not all deaths are us quitting a bad habit or just simply becoming selfless instead of selfish. Sometimes putting things in our life to death means processing. If you are struggling with depression, putting depression to death is found in therapy and talking about the emotions that you are feeling. Sometimes change is a form of death into life, letting one thing die or fall so that another can take its place. Graduating High school and moving on to something different (Be it college, or full time work, or service or whatever else you might be doing). Change needs to be processed. Putting things to death is not always easy. It is not always something where one day you are doing or feeling something, and then the next you are in a completely different state of mind. Dying to one’s self takes time. In some cases, it takes an entire life time to even make a minimal amount of progress. But the fact is, when we put to death these things that hold us back, when we burry our own desires, when we put to death that which contains us in the shell of this seed, we are able to grow and morph and change into something that is life giving. Rather than being a useless ball of something, we are able to become a plant that gives life and produces life for others. This is what it means to truly love others as God loves others. This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ, doing as He did and speaking as he spoke. This is what it means to give your life up. This is what the Bible is saying when it talks about needing to “lose your life to find it”. (Matthew 10:39)
How many stories are do we have of people who have had all the money and greed in the world, but when they give up their riches and decide to instead live a life of service (putting to death their own desires) Not only did they give life to others, but they also found vibrant life themselves? How many stories are there of people who have experienced loss or change, but somehow, through the process, they grew and became a stronger and more alive individual? How many stories are there of people who have had serious emotional issues go to therapy or find some sort of way to communicate their emotions in a healthy and positive manner, and through that they were able to process and “burry” their emotional problems once and for all, and the vibrant life that followed?
I have even known this in my own personal experience. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, my best friend died. It was sudden, and it was a huge shock for his family, myself, and those that loved him dearly. Now, I am not saying that I am glad that he passed away, of course not! To this day, nearly 5 years later, I still miss him to death, but one of the things that was birthed from that summer/year(Because it carried on into the school year for me) of grief, of loss, of processing, and of literal and symbolic death for me, I somehow grew. I became more attuned to my emotions and the emotions of others. I became more sensitive. Through that experience, as terrible as it was, I was able to form the words and empathy needed to care for others going through a similar situation. I am much more attuned and able to help others cope with the loss of a loved one because I have gone through it myself. It was tough, I hated it half the time, I cried a lot, but it was a time of death that somehow someway has brought about me being able to pour into others, and in some way shape or form, bring life into those around me.
Just as the world around us brings life out of death, just as Jesus brought life out of death, so too do we bring life out of death s well. I hope this is making sense to you all. If there is any bit in this blog post that is confusing, please comment and raise your questions so that I can clarify, so that I can discuss, and so that we can both grow in understanding.
Now, I would be remiss if I were not to mention the afterlife since we are talking about death and rebirth, but know that this is not the main point of Christianity in my opinion. (I believe I share the same opinion of Jesus as well). Jesus’ message was predominantly one of, “The kingdom of Heaven is here”. “The opportunity to die to yourself so that others and yourself may experience life is here and now.” The purpose of being a disciple of Christ is not “Going somewhere else”, it is about experiencing death into life to the absolute fullest in our present reality. But, for those curious about the afterlife, here are my thoughts on the matter. Take them or leave them.
The Bible also teaches that eventually a time of death will be no more, where life will be eternal and never ending. The source of life will no longer be death, but instead, the source of life will be the Divine.
When Jesus died and rose again, we have a defeating of the cycle of death. Where our present reality is conformed around the cycle of death bringing life, it is not the end all be all. That is not how it will always be. Through Christ, in some mystical, powerful, cosmic way, the cycle of death into life has been broken. The final death, our physical deaths, brings about an eternal life that finds it’s source in Christ rather than death. This is where it starts to get Hindu.
One way that you can think about this is almost like the cycle of reincarnation. The way that Hindu reincarnation works is that every single being has a sliver of the divine essence within them inherently. (Sound like the Christian belief that we are all created in the image of God anyone?) The goal or aim of life is to find enlightenment, to come to a realization that life is not what it is all about, but rather, rejoining the divine essence wholly. What happens when one reaches enlightenment is the cycle of reincarnation is broken, and instead of being reborn into another being, you’re essence instead rejoins the divine essence, almost like a drop of water falling into a fathomless ocean.
This cycle of death into life that we live in is like the reincarnation cycle. We are constantly replaying the same things over and over again, trying to make our way towards enlightenment. However, instead of our bodies dying and being reborn again, our deaths represent enlightenment, it represents the breaking of that cycle. The Apostle Paul writes, “Death where is your victory. Death, where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55) This comes from a whole chapter where Paul is discussing the resurrection. Through Christ’s resurrection, the cycle of death has been broken, and he has gifted that to us. I do not believe for one second that death holds down or prevents Christ in any way shape or form. We have verse after verse that talks about Christ’s victory over the grave. How many songs have you sung that talk about that very topic. If Christ has conquered the grave, how on earth could the grave prevent Him from sharing His love and grace with anyone and everyone.
I am not saying that everyone is blanket saved. I am not necessarily a universalist. I think that Jesus Himself talked way too much about discipleship and following Him to think that everyone is just saved without any sort of active decision to follow. However, nowhere does that bible say that death prevents Jesus’ resurrection and life from reaching the spirit of those who have passed on. Maybe people are indeed reborn. Maybe people go to hell. Maybe people are locked inside their own head? Maybe the afterlife is more like C.S. Lewis’ portrayal in “The Great Divorce”, (A fantastic book that i think every single person should read.) where the gates of heaven are not locked by God, but instead the stubbornness of our own hearts to the saving grace of Jesus. For some, this is a big issue. The main questions are, “well what if I’m not saved. What if my family members or loved ones aren’t saved?” Those are all valid questions, and this sort of discussion is vital I believe. But we also have to understand that none of us living folks, as far as we know, have never experienced dying. We are going off of what other people have said regarding it, and we are basing it off of who we know God to be (Another reason it is crucial to understand what exactly the essence of the divine is), but the fact is, we are never going to truly understand this afterlife discussion until we actually die and experience it ourselves.
And that, my friends, are my thoughts on seeds, death, and life. I hope you enjoyed this little pouring out of myself upon this page. Write to me your own thoughts, comment, share with others. If this helped you, or spoke to you in some way shape or form, share it with someone else. Continue this discussion with a family member over Christmas break. Don’t let this die with you. The purpose of this blog is not simply to say here. If it is helpful for people, it is meant to be shared and discussed and spoken about, to help others grow spiritually. I hope my thoughts and experiences do just that. I hope my own journey for understanding inspires you in your own journey. Until my next blog post.
Blessings and Peace,
This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or any groups mentioned here