Dying to Bear Fruit
Ng Wee Keong
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26 NIV)
One of the beauties of reflecting on the Word is it WILL challenge me to rethink assumptions about passages that have become too familiar. The solemn message from Jesus is this: “I must die so you can live. My life for yours. And you are to follow in my footsteps. Your life for others. You must die in order to live. If you desire to save others, you cannot withhold yourself, and if you desire to bear much fruit, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.”
I have treated the above passage both figuratively and literally, for more times than I can count. I have explained “death” in terms of self-denial of hurts, habits and hang-ups. It could also mean physically pushing myself to do the right thing even when I am feeling tired. It could mean an intentional, deliberate action to go against my sinful nature to right the wrongs I have done.
I have also explained "death" as in the literal sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of Christ. Though extreme and controversial, there are ample documentations of Christian believers who lost their lives as a result of their beliefs. I pray that fate will never come upon any of us.
But what about “death” experienced in an emotional manner? What if just like a seed that dies, it gets buried in darkness, isolated from everything else, alone and lonely, unable to communicate or socialise with anyone else? What if "death" meant a state where one cannot share, tell, express all there is within the heart?
In the name of “being open”, perhaps I had (in reality) lacked wisdom and self control; and all I wanted to do was to vent my fears, bitterness, sadness and/or anger on someone. Could I not have considered my feelings of isolation as being just a temporary state? Perhaps this “dark night of the soul” must finish its course, so that at the right time, the spiritual “daybreak” may happen... Can it be something we go through so that God can eventually use our “death state” to germinate and bear abundant fruit?
I don’t have all the answers. But when the words are from Jesus, I remind myself that it is a privilege to enter into “participation in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10) and I am therefore in great company. I also remind myself that all suffering is designed to make me a vehicle suitable for his use. And may I always remember that his Calvary exploded into abundant fruitfulness, and so will mine.
Do we call it dying when a bud blossoms into a flower?
Ng Wee Keong
After serving in the full time ministry for 25 years, Wee Keong stepped out on faith to seek outside employment and continue his adventure with God. He is now doing mediation work and considers his salvation, his wife and sons and his spiritual experiences the greatest gains in his life.