The Mustard-Seed Kingdom

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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[The Kingdom of God] is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:31

In one of the parables of the kingdom of God in Mark 4, Jesus compares the kingdom to a mustard seed. Like this seed, the kingdom of God is quite small. But, even as the mustard plant grows to a prodigious size, so it is with the kingdom of God.

We must remember that the phrase “kingdom of God” did not refer to a place, but rather to the reign of God. His reign was truly present in the ministry of Jesus. But its impact was relatively insignificant at the time. Yes, Jesus stirred up the crowds and distressed many Jewish leaders. Yes, he was popular among common people, especially those who needed healing or deliverance. But, for the most part, Jesus didn’t even show up as a blip on the radar screen. As ancient Roman historians recounted the key events and people of the first-century A.D., Jesus received only the tiniest mention. Though God’s reign was truly present in the ministry of Jesus, it was small and apparently inconsequential. In time, however, it would make its full impact known.

Sometimes we Christians forget the image of the mustard seed and the encouragement it brings. We look at huge, successful ministries and discount the importance of our local churches. Or we see a few Christians who impact millions of people and figure that our contribution doesn’t count. In fact, however, God has chosen to use that which appears to be inconsequential in the work of his kingdom. Our calling is not to make a big splash for God, but rather to be faithful in our part of the world. The mustard seed of God’s reign will grow through us in our workplace, family, school, community, church, and society. We may not see it. We may not think we’re making a major impact. But God will be at work in and through us, extending his rule in our world.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you ever discount your contribution to the work of God because it doesn’t seem big enough? How is God using you these days in his kingdom work? How might you be more faithful in your part of God’s world?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for this encouraging image of the mustard seed. You know how easy it is for us to get caught up in the idea that bigness is what really matters in your work. Then we look at our efforts and they appear hopelessly puny and insignificant. They look, well, like some tiny mustard seed.

Indeed, it may well be that our efforts on behalf of your kingdom won’t ever win prizes or sell thousands of books or make headlines. But the mustard seed of your kingdom is nevertheless present in our lives, as you extend your reign through us.

So help us, Lord, to be faithful in small things. Use us for your purposes. Glorify yourself in us and all that we do in every arena of life. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.