The Big Potential of a Small Seed
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-33, ESV)
Did you know that the mustard seed is not actually the smallest of all seeds? While I didn’t know this to be true until recently, those living in the first century did. In the Greco-Roman period, it was common practice to utilize a proverbial (stereotypical) style of communication. And Jesus used this provocative way of speaking to allure his listeners.
First, let’s consider one possible definition of the kingdom of heaven from Bible teacher and author Brad Gray. The kingdom of heaven is “the rule and reign of God advancing here on earth, bringing healing and wholeness by chasing out the chaos.”
If the kingdom of heaven is advancing God’s rule and reign here on earth, what might God be up to in our lives today? Often our circumstances, hopes, and desires feel like chaos, leading us to believe that God doesn’t care or is absent altogether. But what if God is working through every detail of our lives—the big, the small, and the messy—to bring forth healing and wholeness?
Let’s turn back to the mustard seed. The power of this parable lies in its tangible representation of the capacity for growth, both in the kingdom of heaven and in our personal lives. This capacity for growth translates to the power of faith we have through our relationship with Jesus as well. A mustard seed size of faith opens the eyes of our hearts to hope, and hope is the current that moves us forward. Faith is the substance that gives our ordinary days meaning and light in our darkest hours.
We can nurture and water these little mustard seeds of faith through expressions of lament and gratitude. Lament (expressing our sorrow and grief to God) walks us from heartache to praise; and gratitude births joy regardless of the chaos surrounding us.
Mustard seed-sized faith flourishes when we lean into meaningful (or hard) conversations, whether during a round of golf, at work, or with loved ones. Faith grows when we confess, repent, and seek forgiveness. Even the smallest bit of faith offers us a place to nest and find rest.
Will you join me in claiming the good news of the parable of the mustard seed today? Whether your faith is big or small, be encouraged. Faith always has the capacity to grow when watered by God’s word and fed by his unconditional love. And best yet, Jesus can use the smallest seeds of faith to help advance the kingdom of heaven.
January 30, 2020
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