Welcome back to our ongoing series, I DARE YOU. This is our look at the unique parables of Jesus Christ from the four Gospels found in the New Testament. Once a week, we will examine one of Christ’s stories and let his challenge to his first-century audience speak to us now and provoke us to live in the Kingdom of God better, more fully, more wholeheartedly. We see these parables as dares to step outside of the norm of the world and enter into what God has for us. We hope that you will be likewise challenged and that you will take the dare to live a more Christlike, Kingdom of God-focused life.
“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.”” – Mark 4:30-32
It’s a simple parable. With the imagery of a mustard seed being very popular in Christian culture this may be one of those parables that we skip over because “we know it”. We have heard it enough times that we don’t need to rehash these two verses. But that would be a mistake.
In these two verses, Jesus offers a valuable encouragement to all Christians; to missionaries, to evangelists, to pastors and teachers, to anyone that has every shared their faith in Christ in one way or another. And in a world that is routinely beating us down, diminishing our work, mocking our efforts, this may be a most timely message.
And a dare that will give you strength to keep going.
It’s amazing how the simplest of Jesus’ parables or saying have such a powerful message tucked away in them. It is only two verses, but the challenge that Jesus packs into this parable is powerful. But we need to take a quick step back to previous parables Jesus had shared so that we get the full effect of this one.
In Mark 4, Jesus shares a number of parables. 3 of them have to do with the idea of sowing and seeds. I talked about the Parable of the Sower and the Soil, and how it isn’t just the heart of the unbeliever that the good news needs to take root in, but also in our hearts as well. To often we have places in our hearts that we don’t surrender to the Good News. That needs to be challenged.
I talked about the Parable of Seed, and how we are not called to make people grow or develop a relationship with Jesus. That part isn’t up to us, just as it isn’t up to the sower to force or make the seed grow. That job belongs to God, and he will cause the seeds we plant to grow.
And then Jesus talks about the mustard seed. He paints this bizarre picture where the Kingdom of God is not a massive castle in the sky, or a country with borders. It isn’t a square city that falls from the heavens. It looks like a mustard seed that gets planted.
When Jesus says, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, I hear him challenging me, daring me to live and think differently.
“I dare you to believe in the small things.”
The spreading of the Kingdom of God can start small. It doesn’t have to begin with a colossal event, some gigantic change that alters a person’s entire life. It can, but don’t think that this is the norm. More often than not, the Kingdom of God starts with something small.
A small idea, a small glimpse of something, a thinny shift in someone’s thinking towards the ways of Christ; that is a mustard seed being planted. It may not look like much on the outside, like the smallest seed on earth. But that doesn’t mean that the oppurtunity for change, for growth, for a revolutionary shift is lacking.
A kind gesture from you to a coworker, an affirming word to someone that seems like they are having a miserable day, or a simple act like buying someone’s coffee for them are all simple, little, mustard seed size ways of planting the Good News of the Kingdom of God into people’s lives.
Often we think that small things like that, small gestures aren’t enough to convey the love and majestic and awesome of God. Jesus says, on the contrary, it is just how the Kingdom works.
Small and simple little gestures of love make all the difference. Maybe not right away. Maybe not that day, but like a seed, it will grow. it will change the landscape of someone’s life. So much in fact, a seed sown in love can take shape by the Spirit and become a life giving tree, bearing its own fruit and seeds of love as well.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Don’t give up on the small things. Don’t doubt that your small acts of love and kindness are powerful. They are. They are seeds into people’s lives, small mustard seeds that God can take and use. Don’t doubt that small and simple gestures of love to the people you interact with on a day to day basis.
Too often we get tired or give up on showing love in these kinds of way. We’ve done it for so long and no one is noticing, or so we think. It doesn’t seem to be working or having any effect. That isn’t for us to worry about, only to keep sowing those seeds, even if they are small ones.
The Apostle Paul recognized that it wasn’t up to him to make the seeds he planted grow. Nor was it some other Christians responsibility. They were called to keep showing love, sowing seeds into peoples lives, and let God make the Kingdom manifest into a life giving tree.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6
So, do not stress how about effective your ministry is. Don’t fret about whether or not your congregation is “getting it” right now. Leave it in God’s hands. He will cause the mustard seeds you have sown to grow.
The Kingdom of God is not about big, bombastic moves. God doesn’t force his way in to our lives, and he doesn’t want his followers to try to shove him down people’s throats. Rather he wants us to display the love and kindness that is so characteristic of his Kingdom. Even in that gesture is small and simple, like a mustard seed. He will make it so much more, like a mighty, livegiving tree.
it is up to us to keep going, to keep sowing those loving seeds into people’s lives. It’s what Jesus calls us to. So go do it.
I dare you.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”- Galatians 6:9
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage, or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
Photo credit: pexels.com
This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.