Planting a Seed for Eternity

1 Peter 1:22- 2:3 

There’s a lot to be said for a packet of seeds. It’s a miracle waiting to happen, really. You see, these seeds weren’t manufactured in a seed plant somewhere in New Jersey – what’s mind boggling is that they came from a flower that grew last year and produced them – and that flower grew from a seed that came from a flower the year before – and that flower from the year before that. And if you can imagine – those flowers that produced generation after generation of seed and flower, seed and flower go all the way back to the beginning of creation on Day 3 (Gen. 1:12). Wrap your mind around that for a moment.

They say if you have a week, plant a dandelion – if you have a decade plant a shrub - if you have a century plant a redwood.

Well, that’s the question this morning – what is your timeframe?

We’re giving all the mothers in the congregation this morning a packet of seeds – I would have liked to give you a packet of seeds from a redwood tree, but as you can imagine, you don’t buy those at the local nursery. So, a packet of seeds from flowers will have to do, and I want to encourage you to plant them sometime this week and enjoy the beauty of the flowers that will spring up – and so that you will be reminded of what we will be talking about this morning.

I thought, this morning, we would talk about planting seeds – actually seeds in the form of children. You mothers are in a very real, tangible way the gardeners in God’s vineyard.

1 Peter 1:22- 2:3 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Isn’t it interesting that when Peter talks about purifying yourself by obeying the truth it comes out looking like loving the people around you? Most of the time when you observe people who claim to be “obeying the truth” they end up narrowing their circle of fellowship tighter and tighter as they find fault with more and more people until they don’t have much to do with anybody but those who share their very narrow and rigid view of scripture, and then they sit around launching criticisms at others who aren’t as pure as they are. You might use a lot of words to describe that, but “loving one another deeply from the heart” wouldn’t be among them. And I hope we don’t miss that in this passage, that the outcome of doctrinal purity is brotherly love, not a critical spirit – unity, not division.

But where does this purity and love flow from? Peter writes, “for you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” We’re all born a first time, when mom and dad decide bringing a child into the world would be a neat idea. And mom and dad do what moms and dads do when they want a baby. A seed is planted, a life is conceived and a baby comes into this world – 10 fingers, 10 toes, a bushy head of hair and a wail that would raise the dead. And we make over that precious little baby and raise her the best we can – we educate her, provide for her needs, provide her with all of the comforts of life – and then turn her loose to live her life as an adult. But as Peter reminds us, that seed that was planted is perishable seed – as much as we hate to think about it – one day that precious child of ours will die – most likely of old age after a long and full life, but maybe young and in the prime of life. But one thing you can count on – a life that springs from that perishable seed will die.

But, Peter says, we plant another seed, an imperishable seed – and he says that another birth takes place – a new birth – we are born again, when the living and enduring word of God is planted in our life. And because this seed is imperishable, it will never die. The body that sprang from the perishable seed will die and decay, but the life that springs from the new birth will never die.

But, just like a seedling plant, it’s not a static, inanimate object but a living, growing organism. And you don’t just stick a seed in the ground and walk away and ignore it (although you have to wonder about weeds – how do they grow in cracks in the sidewalk?) But for plants you want to grow you have to prepare the soil, and water it and fertilize it and weed around it and keep the insects away.

Doesn’t Peter use that same kind of imagery? “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” Preparation, prevention, protection, provision. Some things will choke out or poison a seedling. You have to clear the soil and get it ready for growth.

And then the baby comes – the new birth arrives: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

He switches images from the seed planted, to the baby born – but it’s still the same process. That spiritual newborn needs certain things to grow healthy and strong – pure spiritual milk. You have to feed the baby – and the thing I remember about babies (correct me if my memory is wrong here) is that they don’t eat three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. They eat every couple of hours – and right at first, they don’t know that you aren’t supposed to wake up in the middle of the night to eat – 2 in the morning is the same as 2 in the afternoon to a baby. How much more nourishment and nutrition does a spiritual baby need as he is growing in his faith – Peter says, “grow up in your salvation.” We need to be feeding our spiritual newborns, our children growing up their faith – stocking them up with spiritual nutrition – a buffet line at the Word of God.

Let me get back to mothers for a moment. I can’t read that passage without thinking about moms. I’d like to think I’m the one planting seeds and nurturing spiritual growth, but the fact is every single one of you mothers has more influence in your little finger than I have in my whole body. You are the gardeners planting spiritual seed in your children, you are the spiritual mothers nurturing faith in your kids.

You do it when you sit your babies on your laps and read about Noah and the ark before they have a clue what an ark is. You plant the seed when you talk about how wonderful God is to your toddler. You are sowing a crop of faith when you make your child carry the dish up to the doorstep when you’re taking a meal to a sister in Christ who just got home from the hospital. You’re watering and feeding when you make sure your child is in Bible class on Sunday morning. You are securing an eternal harvest when you have a heart to heart talk about salvation with your pre-teen who is curious about baptism.

All those things you do that don’t seem all that big and significant are all a part of planting that seed in your child’s life, and nurturing its growth, and preparing for the fruit of God’s vineyard in their life. And that little baby you gave birth to in a delivery room – you’re preparing them for another birth – a new birth into Jesus Christ. And you’re giving them that pure spiritual milk of God’s Word and making sure they are growing up healthy and strong in their faith.

We’ve planted tomatoes in pots on our porch for the last few years now, and every year we’ve done pretty well and enjoyed tomatoes all through the summer and into the fall. Over the years we’ve had bigger gardens and grown zucchini and yellow squash and okra and radishes. Now, you’d think, don’t waste your time – if you want squash and radishes buy them at the grocery store. But you see, half the fun of eating fresh vegetables is growing them yourself. So, every year we spend more money and time than they’re worth, but we get the biggest kick out of going out each evening and seeing what new is coming up!

And that’s the way it is with our kids – you don’t just throw some seed out once and hope for the best. The world is out there doing its best to wash the seed away, choke out what takes hold and poison the rest. But when the world washes that batch away, plant some more seed, keep pouring on the water and fertilizer, keep the weeds out and giving the seed a chance. That batch washes out, drop some more seed in the soil.

You remember Jesus’ parable about the farmer planting the seed – he just went along casting it everywhere – some of it didn’t take, some of it didn’t have a chance. He just kept planting it anyway.

And the truth is – and I’ll have to tell you, this truth is both exciting and frustrating – God is the one who gives the growth and brings the harvest. Listen to Paul:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field. (1 Cor. 3:5-9)

Maybe you’re a bit like me – I want to be in control. I want to plant the seed, water it, and then will it to grow. I’m the little kid in 2nd grade who planted his lima bean in the Dixie cup and then had to dig it up every day to see how it was doing. If the package says germination is 10 days, by golly, on the 10th day I had better see green – and I mean morning, not evening.

I want to be in charge of spiritual growth, too. Read your Bible, say your prayers, attend Bible class, serve in a ministry – hop to it! Plan the work, work the plan. But isn’t it interesting how God often has other plans. He doesn’t seem to work on our timetable, he takes us down strange and often unfamiliar back roads to get us to where he wants us. And sometimes the roads are full of potholes and bumps, and sometimes they take us down detours. And we find ourselves going slower than we had hoped and encountering more obstacles than we ever imagined.

But God is faithful – he knows where he wants us and he knows how to get us there – and we are forced to trust him. And when we do… then we experience the kind of spiritual growth and fruit that God created us for.

Plant for eternity. Let the seed of the word of God find its home in your life and pass that seed on to your children and your grandchildren, and for generations beyond.