The Old Must Die
You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 1 Corinthians 15:36
The addict often has his own ideas of how he might change his life. He’s usually aware that he needs transformation, and he also knows what those in recovery would tell him, but he thinks that he’s got a better idea. Those in recovery will tell him that he must give up all mind-altering chemicals. Still, I meet many who tell me that their plan to stay off meth or heroin is to simply smoke marijuana. The addict believes that marijuana isn’t nearly as destructive to his life and he thinks that he can find his version of recovery and the new life if he can just be content with pot.
The problem is that this isn’t truly recovery. Regularly turning to a chemical high to feel good is simply maintaining the addiction – albeit with a different chemical. Keeping the door open to one drug usually leads back to the old one and soon, the addict returns to his heroin or meth. For the addict to truly find recovery, he must abandon all illicit drugs. Only when the old ways die can he experience the new life.
This is the principle that Paul insisted upon in today’s passage. In it, he used the metaphor of a seed. He said that just as the seed must be buried to get the plant, so too must our old life be killed if we desire to know new life. In this passage, he spoke of the new bodies we’ll receive after death and resurrection in Christ, but the metaphor holds to our present condition as well. If we want the new life, the old one must die.
This isn’t just about drug addiction. This is a universal experience. We all want change, yet we cling to the old, refusing to do what it takes to experience the new. We walk around with our old dusty seeds in our hands. We look at what others have, and we want it, but we refuse to put our seeds in the ground and bury them. We cling to our seeds and thus we never experience the new life of faith and recovery for which we’re meant.
To this, Paul said, You foolish person! The new life is waiting for us, but first, we must be willing to do what it takes to put the old one in the ground. Daily, we must go to God, asking what we need to bury, then, we must daily work on it. We won’t be perfect all at once. We’ll still struggle, but it’s only in continually burying the old that we experience the new.