35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Reflection: And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
Several years ago a pastor friend of mine discussed a beautiful metaphor in a meeting on clergy development. He reminded us that the purpose of an apple seed was not to grow more apples. The purpose of an apple seed was to grow more trees. If one seed alone produced one apple, then the whole process would not be very efficient or effective. But if that one seed produces a tree that, year after year, yields hundreds of apples, then imagine the harvest! The point was to remind us that when we work with young clergy in development, we are nurturing a new tree that might produce hundreds of other trees in its lifetime.
The New Testament speaks regularly to the importance of the seed. Jesus reminded us that one small seed can transform into a large, far-branching tree. He also cautioned his disciples that a seed can only grow if it first goes into the ground and dies. And here, in our Scripture for this week, Paul is reminding his readers that their present life is like a seed being sown to a future reality in resurrection.
Whatever it is that we experience in God now, we will experience more abundantly in the life to come. One of my favorite promises in the New Testament comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. He writes, you “were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). He also reiterates this point in his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). If the Holy Spirit is just the deposit, can you imagine how amazing the payoff will be!?
If you were to think of your present life as a seed, preparing you for what is to come, how would it change the way you live? Now is the time to nourish, nurture, and water the seed of life that will be brought into full bloom in the resurrection. Do not be satisfied with the one apple of this life; prepare for an apple tree full of blessings in the life to come. We are engaged in a season of soul-making – a season of spiritual incubation. The way you have lived your life in the present age will go a long way in what you develop into in the fulfilled kingdom of God. Live today with a seed mentality and you will blossom into God’s purpose for your life.
Journaling Focus: Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Have you thought about how your life reflects Jesus Christ? How can people see Jesus in you? This week, explore these questions as you reflect in your journal. Write down a list of Jesus’s characteristics: for example, Jesus is kind, good, firm in his convictions, loving, etc. Whatever you see reflected in the actions and words of Jesus, write that down. Then go down the list, reflecting on how these characteristics are evident or could be made evident in your life. Keep this list and pray over it, asking God to empower you to “bear the image of the man of heaven.”
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
These questions are designed to help make sense of the message of Scripture. They are not designed to overwhelm, but to enlighten. Do not feel as if you need to answer all – or even most – of these questions every week. Perhaps pick one or two that will help you explore the Scripture and its message more deeply.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Prayer Focus: What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
Ask God to lead you toward those things that are imperishable in life: relationships, acts of giving, compassion, etc. Pray for an increase of these things and a decrease of the trivial, unimportant distractions of life. Trust that God is taking you from perishability to imperishability in all you do and in all you are.
Meditation Focus: Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being.”
Read Genesis 2:4-7. In this passage you get the image of God creating Adam and breathing life into his nostrils. Imagine yourself in the place of Adam. God has formed you out of dust and stoops down to breath life into you. Imagine this scene several times. What do you feel when God breathes into you? How does God’s breath affect your mind, your heart, and your spirit? Do you feel God’s life-power in your body? Keep sitting with this image. Where do you go and what do you do after God is done breathing life into you? Is God ever done with this?
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- In what ways are you witnessing growth into godliness – in both the world and in your own life?
- Where are you experiencing death-defying hope?
- What seeds have you been planting?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Complete a task from start to finish. Notice how it changes from beginning to end. Perhaps you will prepare a meal or dish based on a recipe. How does the end product reflect the beginning elements? How is it different? How does this reflect our transformation in Christ?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, bring us to completion in you.