Part of the mystery of the new birth is the power of the seed. New life in Jesus is something more than a resolution to follow him, more than human determination to become a better person. No: it really is a new birth, and Peter describes this new birth in terms of an “imperishable seed.” It’s true in the natural world. Inside of an apple seed are the instructions--the potential for an entire apple tree. Deep inside the seed is the DNA, and it sets the course for the seed. An apple seed can only produce an apple tree, nothing else.
But DNA is not destiny, it is potential. Without the right soil or the right temperature, without enough water, the seed cannot reach its potential. The imperishable seed inside of each believer contains the possibilities of Christlikeness. To be born from above means that we have heaven’s genetic code implanted within us. But we are the soil: the choices we make shape our future in Christ. Becoming like Jesus is a partnership: our choices are the soil; the DNA guarantees the outcome.
Peter was there when Jesus talked about seed falling into the ground. He heard the Lord teach about the different kind of soil and their effect on the seed. And here in Peter’s letter, written decades after Jesus ascended to heaven, he reflects on the potential of that imperishable seed. He encourages us to choose obedience and heart-felt love, because these ingredients are essential to reaching the full destiny of the seed.
Here’s a meditation for a Monday: how will I tend the seed inside of me? Christlikeness is built into the imperishable seed. He graciously planted it there. His DNA makes it possible for me to become like him, but my choices contribute to the outcome.