We have been studying the parables. More thoughts on one of them in connection with the Kingdom of God.
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” (Lk 13:18-19)
With many events in our world and our personal lives unfolding before us, we sometimes find ourselves asking what we are coming to, what is happening to our world. Some of us may ask what is God up to? Many times, we may be confused because of our assumptions of what God must do. Even when we have heard of the miracles of God, we sometimes wonder where God is.
What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is equated to the ways of God, the thoughts of God. Another way of asking what is the Kingdom of God could be what is God up to? What is He thinking? How do I trace the finger of God in the events of the world?
In the answer to the question ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?’ Jesus compares it to two things, the mustard seed and leaven. In this article, we will consider the former.
Luke mentioned that the man planted the mustard seed in the garden. Though not the smallest seed (the cypress is the smallest and lightest), the mustard seed (Brassica nigra = Sinapis nigra) was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world. The mustard seed is proverbial for the smallest of things. When sown into the ground and nourished, it grows into a luxuriant tree big enough for birds in the air to perch in its branches.
What are the ways of God like? How do we trace his fingers? How do we discern God’s ways in our world today?
We may think we may not amount to much because we are not rich enough, not smart enough, not influential enough, that what we contribute is humble, too little, too ordinary. As we look at our career, our homes, our families, perhaps we feel ashamed of our achievements, that our efforts do not weigh much in other’s judgment and that they are not impressive.
But God looks at it at a totally different perspective. It is not the exterior but the interior that matters. God looks into the heart: motivations, cheerfulness, willing hand, open spirit that counts.
God blesses efforts from pure intentions and compounded the effects. Correct motivations multiply. Someone once said, we may not be able to do big things, but we can do small things with a BIG heart. Let us not undermine small efforts.
The seed in the ground will be growing. Life is growing in organism. Living organism can grow only when it is nourished. If we measure the growth of the seed day by day, we cannot quite tell the difference. But, at the end, the growth is evident.
The church is an organism, not a monolithic institution. If we, the body of Christ are wise to the ways of God in nurturing, nourishing rather than categorising what is done, the church will grow.
What are the ways of God? The minds are trained to look at analytics, but we can never quite figure out what God is doing. However, even when we are unable to understand what is happening in the world and in our lives, as in the hymn This is our Father’s world and it still is.
Deacon Dr Ler Soon Lay