Jesus 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.” (Mark 4:30-32)
There has been an escalation of expectations in our culture. It wasn’t that long ago that people sat on their front porch and talked to neighbors next door to pass the time. Games included tic-tac-toe and jacks and going out in the yard to throw a ball or play baseball. There is still a bit of that but as technology has increased the pace of life, the level of engagement that it takes to keep our attention has gone up, too. What used to be enjoyable is now called boring. What used to be fun is not even considered mildly interesting. We need more action, more visual and audio stimulation, more and more and more…
This same thing can influence how we see our lives. It is easy to discount the ordinary as merely ordinary and of no real consequence. Real meaning comes with excitement and challenge and risk and adventure. The fact is that we have more at our disposal than at any other time in history but our lives often lack any real sense of meaning and purpose. We are tempted to think, “Surely, if my life is going to contribute something to the world, it must be bigger and more exciting than this!”
Into this culture come the words of Jesus. He has come to declare the arrival of God’s kingdom. It is the most important thing in all of history. It means the transformation of everything we know into something that is devoted to and living out of God’s deepest will and desire. As Jesus tells people about this promise, they long for it and pray it will come soon.
Yet this kingdom is a paradox. On the one had, it arrives like a lamp on a stand. It is to be lifted up and seen by all – not hidden under a basket. But the way it comes is like a mustard seed. It starts with little things. They seem not only ordinary, but they can seem insignificant. It is easy to discount a mustard seed when you see it. It is tiny and if you drop it on the ground you may have trouble even finding it again. But from this seed emerges a sprout that will grow large enough to be a bush and produce leaves and branches strong enough to hold a bird. From what seems tiny and of no consequence comes one of the largest plants in the garden.
This is how the God’s reign works. Through a series of seemingly insignificant things amazing things emerge. The coming of the kingdom may arrive with what looks like a fizzle more than a flash. But these little things, done by God and for God, amount to the seed that brings forth something amazing.
It is easy to dismiss our lives as ordinary and of little consequence. But a kind word, a handwritten note, a hug, a tear shed, and all sorts of things are signs of love and passion and may just be the stuff through which God’s kingdom breaks into our lives. Don’t discount the small and ordinary. It is the stuff of our lives. It is also the stuff of God’s kingdom.