It would be considered vulgar in most Western cultures to talk about God’s sperm. At the very least, this statement would come as a shock to most; it conjures up negative images, and rude offensive language is likely to flow from the recipient of such terminology. Nonetheless, this concept was central to the Apostle John and his theology of victory. The Greek language is very clear. There is no room for debate. Sperma, or seed, is used in the third chapter of 1 John to convey the life-principle that transfers the paternal characteristics of God to those whom He loves.
In 1 John 3:9 it reads, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” Even Peter uses this language to make an eternally important point for believers in Christ. In 1 Peter 1:23, he says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Each person who has trusted in Christ carries His seed within. Each one bears the amazing and dangerous seed of Christ, which affected the world and conquered the spiritual forces arrayed by the enemy. True, it is very small, like the grain of a mustard seed; but in spite of its smallness, it holds eternal power. If we dare to step out of our creature comforts and into the suffering world, it will surely grow.
Take, for example, a young man or woman in a dying land, charged with God’s call to affect the nations. This person may be young in the Lord and yet consumed with zeal, choosing to take the fledgling seed of Christ into the heart of distress. A refugee camp or a poverty-stricken area can be the quintessential missionary field: a place in desperate need. In suffering, in hardship, the seed of Christ will grow, and Christ will be more and more firmly formed in him or her.
As the grain of the mustard seed in Jesus’ parable grew so large that even the birds of the air took shelter in its branches, so the man or woman who bears the awakened seed of Christ into the world’s suffering will grow to become a refuge for many. In Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton wrote, “The Spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known or studied, it is to be lived. Like all life, it grows sick and dies when it is uprooted from its proper element. Grace is engrafted on our nature, and the whole man is sanctified by the presence and action of the Holy Spirit … let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere.”
1 John 3:1-3