A Story of Radical Transformation
The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants . . . Matthew 13:31-32
A couple years ago, I met a newly recovered heroin addict whose life up to that point had been dominated by his addiction. He told of the recurrent cycle of attempted sobriety and the misery of relapse. His life was a mess at the time, but he seemed to be genuinely penitent and ready to do whatever it took to change. He completely walked away from the old life and turned desperately to God.
Today, he would give all the credit to God and I would wholeheartedly agree that God has changed him, but I witnessed him making choice after choice to abandon the old life, following God into the new one. Now, a few short years later, this man works full time in a Christian addiction ministry. Daily, he tells others what Christ has done for him, leading them to the blessed new life he’s found. It’s nothing short of miraculous to see the profound change that has occurred in this former heroin addict’s life.
This is the process Christ described in today’s passage. In his parable of the mustard seed, Jesus spoke the kingdom of heaven as a tiny seed that grows into a tree. For the seed to become what it was meant to be, it must cease to be what it was. The seed cannot stay a seed and become something new. For it to transform, it must be buried, and it must stop being a seed as it grows into something radically different.
This is faith and it is meant to be the normal Christian life. If we truly believe in God, then daily, we must turn from our old destructive ways to follow Christ. As we obey, he radically transforms us into what we were meant to be.
The cost of the new life is what prevents so many from finding it though. Death is painful, but for the new life to grow, the old one must perish. We cannot follow the destructive nature of our flesh and follow Christ at the same time. Like the seed, and like my friend, it is only in leaving the old life that we find the new one.