The Energetic Seeds
Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, October 17, 2021.
The Sower of seeds is the Lord. The soil is in our hearts. The seeds are the Word of God, the Person, the Son of God Himself. The seeds are what we know as the energies of God: love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, peace, joy, creativity, grace, light and many others. The energies are not created things, they are uncreated. They are God Himself. By planting the seeds of Himself in us He shares his life with us. And it is with these seeds that the Lord builds in us his temple.
Thomas Merton writes, "Jesus not only teaches us the Christian life, He creates it in our souls by the action of the Holy Spirit. Our life in Him is not a matter of mere ethical goodwill. It is not a mere moral perfection. It is an entirely new spiritual reality, an inner transformation."
The Lord creates the new life “in our souls by the action of the Holy Spirit.” Internal transformation happens by grace, not works, just as salvation does. We have no power to create new life in us any more than a bride and groom have the power to unite themselves into one. God does the transforming. God does the uniting. All we can do is to decide whether to cooperate or not.
So, external things cannot save us. What good is it if we dress in multiple layers of black, wear our hair and beards long, follow all the canons, prostrate until our elbows bleed if our hearts are not filled with love for everyone and everything? Jesus commands only one thing and it has nothing to do with outward appearance. He commands that we love.
The life He would build in us is His own life. The life of Christ. We don’t get to make up a life we would prefer if we wish to be Christians. We cannot choose how it will look or how it will play out. We wait upon the Lord to reveal it in his good time. We wait in faith and patience to see what God is creating in us.
St. Paul eludes to the mysterious nature of life in Christ in I Corinthians 2:9: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
St. John writes nearly the same thing: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2)
Psalm 139:23-24 is a prayer we should incorporate into our daily practice. It speaks about what God will do in us if we open our hearts to Him. And praying it opens the heart to receive it. It takes courage and faith to give ourselves over to the intense scrutiny the prayer calls for.
“Search me, God, and know my heart,
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
The end result we have not yet seen. But we will. When our eyes, our hearts and minds have been cleared of idols and ego, when we are able to see things as they really are through the action of the Holy Spirit in us, then we will see Him, then He will appear and we shall see Him as He is. At that point we will be able to say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
The seed God has planted in the heart of all humanity is leading to this point. “He desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” I cannot help but believe that the desire of God will, in a way quite beyond our power of reason or imagination, be fulfilled. The Lord’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. We need to repent of thinking that they are.
Although we are not in control of the transformation Christ is creating is us, we can nurture the seeds He plants. We can practice what He commands and observe his life in the scriptures and imitate it in ours. If we become aware of anything offensive in us, we can repent and change our ways of thinking and being. We can decide to love and not hate, we can decide to let compassion always be our response. And yet, all of that will come as a result of God’s work in us and not on our own. For all good things come from God and He is most willing to share them with us.
I will end with a poem from St. Symeon the New Theologian who knew first hand the power of the Lord’s Seeds of Transformation.
I see the Creator of the world within me
And know that I can never die
Because I am within all life
And all of life wells up in me.
He is in my heart, He is in heaven;
Both here and there He reveals Himself to me
In equal glory.