Sunday, April 26, 2015
The Tiny Kingdom — Under Attack
Matt. 13:31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Jesus wanted his followers to understand about the kingdom of heaven. It was difficult for them because they wanted to see an earthly kingdom. Power within earthly kingdoms was measured by the number of followers, size of armies and stockpiles of weapons. Jesus wanted them to understand about his kingdom which may be as small as a mustard seed, and yet it would be powerful. Under pressure and persecution it would persevere and grow. This smallest of seeds would become a large tree. Therefore they were not to worry about the attack that might come, or the fact that the kingdom may look small and tiny, for it would continue to grow under God’s power and become more than they could ever imagine.
It feels as if the kingdom is under attack. People are being killed for their Christian faith in many parts of the world. Even in the U.S., being a Christian is not seen as something positive.
Every day I wear a little lapel pin which identifies me with Nazarene Theological Seminary. This pin has a cross on it, as we celebrate the centrality of Christ on the cross to our understanding of holiness. I also spend a lot of time in airplanes. I’ve noticed how people look at my lapel pin and the cross these days. It’s a bit of disdain, or maybe fear that I’m going to talk to them about the Lord. It feels as if the world has written off Christians — especially “evangelical” Christians as being somewhat suspect. The kingdom is under attack.
Yet, we should not succumb to the temptation of discouragement. The kingdom is God’s — not ours. The kingdom is of heaven — not earth. The kingdom is much more powerful than that which we can see.
We may be falling into the temptation of the early Christians, looking around and wanting to see the power and might of the Church. We may be discouraged by a church in decline — and yet, are we comprehending the kingdom? The kingdom may be as small as a mustard seed, barely visible to the naked eye, and yet it can and will grow into more than we can imagine.
Little, truly is much, when God is in it. God has not given up on his kingdom and even when oppressive forces try to take the kingdom hostage, God has a plan.
Today God will work through a people worshiping in the midst of the rubble of an earthquake.
God will replace a martyred preacher with 100 ready to take his place.
God will visit the small, shrinking church in North America and remind us that the kingdom may look like a mustard seed.
The tiny kingdom may look as if it’s under attack but God is at work. Take heart and be courageous, caring for the mustard seed as faithful witnesses to the kingdom.
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve in your kingdom. Amen.