July 5, 2021
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Imagine, for a moment, a mustard seed. If you haven’t seen a mustard seed, look at the tip of a ballpoint pen. The 1mm ball is roughly the size of a mustard seed. Now, imagine a tree 20 feet high, spreading its branches 20 feet across. For most of us, a tree that size would fill the room we are in, and then some. That’s the size disparity Jesus highlights in his parable in Mark.
Trick question: Which of those two images best represents the kingdom of God?
Depending on how you are wired, you are likely more drawn to either the very small ways God is moving, or to the things God is doing on a massive scale. Part of what Jesus’s parable explains is that both ends of the spectrum fully represent the kingdom of God. For you and I, the challenge becomes embracing the work of God that falls outside our comfort size.
You might be easily discouraged when you don’t see a tree size work of God in your life. Learn to see and celebrate the seeds being planted. Or, you might love the ease of sowing small acts of faith like kindness, compassion, and patience. You might be missing the towering trees of God’s work growing around you. Still some of you might be most comfortable with a small shrub size of faith (I know I’m beating this metaphor to death – but bear with me). You or I might want faith that neither takes too much time or attention to find, nor is as unwieldy, uncontrollable, and “in your face” as a tree. There are seasons of manageable faith, yet God often calls us to operate in the extremes of sowing and reaping as a part of his church.
So, here are two simple questions for you and I to think about today:
- Which way am I most comfortable in engaging with faith – small, medium, or large?
- Where is God working in a context I’m uncomfortable in, and how can I embrace that aspect of his kingdom as well?