by Christine Berglund
My father used to say:
“The onion is the only vegetable with a soul. It can get downright rotten, but inside there is something that will live and grow again.”
As with many of Daddy’s philosophical statements, this one rings true but is actually part of a larger truth. All seeds and bulbs have parts that rot in the ground. Jesus illustrates this concept in a grain of wheat.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24, NASB).
Our lives, like the onion, can get really nasty and foul. Mankind was corrupt and rancid when Jesus came and redeemed us from the rottenness of sin. He saw the part that will live on, and valued it immeasurably!
The world can be a rotten place, with seemingly rotten people. We naturally recoil from the sin, just as I will surely wear garden gloves when planting my decaying onions.
But we must never forget the great value of that soul inside. In the course of our lives, we will come in contact with people who have turned their lives into a putrid mess. Yet, there is always that immortal life within.
The most reprobate of humankind are valuable souls. Whether they will have a chance to turn their earthly lives around is irrelevant.
That non-slimy part on the inside is still going to live after death. Whether they live in sin-caused disease or even in prison for a few decades, what does it matter in light of eternity? All is made new in the new heaven and the new earth, where righteousness dwells.
The scriptures give examples of some degenerates who were “washed” and “sanctified.”
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
My onion will live through the spring and probably have two bulbs to harvest in the late summer. Our family can enjoy one in a batch of chili, and the other one can be planted, or stay in the ground to reproduce further.
My other dead-looking seeds are even more valuable as I plan to harvest and then to propagate more plants from their seeds. Similarly, we won’t know how many souls will be reached for God until we hold our noses and reach out with the gospel to those rotten ones.
It is always astounding when I hear from that bratty boy in second-grade Bible class who is now a faithful gospel preacher. I marvel at God’s wisdom when I think of the alcoholic who was confronted by my husband at the local bar, and sobered up and became a church leader.
Some have even found their former way of life a motivation toward greater works in the kingdom; in the same way that the squishy, useless part of the onion will then feed the developing plant.
Hardcore gardeners plant and cultivate our decaying vegetables, because we see the life within. Daddy might have seen it as “Thinking Souls.”