Monday, April 04, 2005

The Mustard Seed

He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
The first thing that strikes me about this parable is that it obviously comes under the heading of "the last will be first," but that doesn't help me much because that whole category of sayings gives me trouble. I always try to overthink them. So with this one I had to make a conscious step back and try to picture the parable.

The kingdom of God is like a seed which is sown and grows up into a large plant. Maybe it would help to know something about mustard plants. But, no, it's about the seed. The kingdom of God is like a seed that we sow and a wonderful plant comes forth. What kind of seed is it? It's the smallest of seeds (more or less).

A lot of Christians today are concerned about growing a big plant, and so we try to build a better seed. I want to live the life of a great saint or give a miraculous and compelling testimony or write powerful and widely-read blog. Whatever it is, I want to do something amazing, something beyond myself, something I know will make a huge impact.

But the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.

So what's the alternative? What's the tiny seed? Simple obedience. While I'm busy dreaming about the world-shaking impact I could have with my life of great faith, I'm leaving the simple things undone in my life. But I don't want to make this all negative. I'm not here to beat myself up. There's good news here, amazing news. The little I can do, simple faith, makes an enormous difference in the world. It lets the kingdom of God into the world.

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