“Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13.18-21
I like when Jesus directs the conversation. No one asks this question — he asks it. As a teacher, it’s a technique used to cover a new topic — asking a question and then answering it for the hearers. And so, Jesus asks, “What is the Kingdom of God like?”
Well, we know what it’s not like! It’s not like what we see on the news — crime, violence, instability, governmental control, cultural and social disintegration. All you have to do is turn on your new app, which I do too many times a day, and you’ll see what’s not working in this world. It’s pretty depressing so I encourage you, to encourage me, to stop looking. Lol.
So what is God’s kingdom like? Jesus says it’s like a mustard seed, one of the smallest of all seeds, almost like a grain of sand, but when it grows, it becomes a tree large enough for birds to sit on it’s branches. It’s also like a small batch of yeast, Jesus continues speaking, which is mixed into a huge amount of flour — sixty pounds worth. And in just a matter of time, it’s worked through the entire dough.
The kingdom of God is of course moral, righteousness and holy actions and intentions. But it is also a living growing organization which expands from humble beginnings. Twelve original disciples is now reflected in a few billion followers. Ministries in places and people which begin with just a word, just a belief, just a decision — are now giant, expansive and influential.
I’m working with a new initiative at a baptist seminary in which we are training Methodist pastors. It’s beautiful! The Wesley House of Studies at Truett began last year with a few existing students and now has up to 20 people involved. I can’t imagine seeing how it will grow in coming years. Not because of a great program development team, or great professors, but because of the Spirit’s work in the hearts and souls of a people who are committed to him and to the truth of his Word and Son Jesus Christ.
“What is the kingdom of God like?” It something which begins small and grows over time. Like my faith in Christ and like yours as well. The Kingdom of God is the truth of God, his love in us and around us. And even though we might be discouraged by the world we see, God’s Kingdom is greater than this temporal world. His Kingdom is both unseen and eternal.
So take heart! God is at work. The world as we know it may be in decline but God’s world, his Kingdom, is rising higher, reacher further, and expanding exponentially in more ways then we could hope for or imagine.
”O Lord God, I want to be about your kingdom today and in the world to come. I want to know it, walk in it, and promote it. I want to know you, live with you, and find significance in your grace and love. Come now, Holy Spirit, rescue us from this pain of sin and death. Return to this world and find us ready and willing. Save us and make us the people you have called us to be. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen