GOD's Kingdom: The Smallest of All Seeds

It's odd that Jesus should compare God's Kingdom with "the smallest of all seeds." A lot of ministers today would brag about their "big" ministries (although when you see them they're really small) and would compare them with large, known, international ministries. I often hear them talk like that---as if their ministries were as big as the Roman Catholic's or Inglesia ni Cristo.

But the world always talks like that. It wants to talk big. It loves to talk about its greatness. Hence, I was intrigued when I realized how Jesus compared God's Kingdom---which is really big and encompassing---to a small mustard seed.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch on its branches. [Matthew 13]
Before being the "largest of garden plants," it was a single small seed, the smallest of all. And mind you, it grew in an abnormally big size. This connotes something supernatural. Something spiritual. It is not literal physical growth that a lot of preachers think it is, like how a church grows in membership and income and building. Because if this were the case, then the Roman Catholic Church alone has the right to claim it.

But fact is, it is not. The passage is about how God uses something that cannot grow big to grow wildly big. It's a fact that a mustard plant never grows into a tree, much less a big one. I did a lot of gardening and I know that for a fact. So, if you tell a farmer you'd like to grow a really big tree and he asks what tree you'd plant and you tell him "a mustard plant," he'd say it will never happen. He may even think you're nuts.

And in fact, it won't. And that's why this is all about the supernatural move of God. God uses what the world sees as small, ineffective and won't work (or nuts) to bring about his big, huge plan for the Kingdom. God uses the weak to shame the strong. God uses the foolish to shame the wise [1 Corinthians 1.27]. Jesus emphasized that the least is the greatest in God's Kingdom. 

And yet, the church at large keeps going the opposite direction. It talks about being big and large and great and the best. They all run the rat race of who's the greatest and has the most number of members and income. That's why they are all after titles and degrees attached to their names and positions. They will never be in the center of God's will as long as they sound and look like the world. 

God's plan is that his Kingdom will grow so big that birds would come and perch on its branches. I notice the words "come" and "perch." The Kingdom never forces people to its membership. Instead, people "come" to it, as we have seen in Jesus' ministry. And "perch" connotes alighting and resting. Thus, I see something figurative and supernatural here.

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The growth God shows here is spiritual growth, not physical or numerical. Jesus invites those who are tired to "come" and he will give them "rest," [Matthew 11.28]. Hebrews talks about the "rest" every believer must make sure to enjoy in life. 
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. [Hebrews 4.11]
It is not growth in numbers, income or structural building that Jesus wanted to teach about the mustard seed but authentic spiritual growth in believers who understand this Kingdom principle of being like "the smallest of all seeds." It's also not about thinking small or remaining small. It's about being God's small and seen by men as being impossible to become big. 

When I talk to pastors or church leaders about doing ministry exactly as Jesus did it---like never following up those you evangelize or not doing visitations or keeping a membership---they'd say your church will never grow that way. Well, Jesus NEVER followed up or visited or kept a membership. He never registered his church's name with the government (in fact his ministry never had a name). But church people today will laugh at you for having a mustard seed mentality. 

But the growth God wants is more spiritual than physical. The only way we can really radically influence people today is by not looking like the world. Private corporations and cause-oriented groups like the Rotary Club all do follow ups, visitations, and keep memberships. They do medical missions and feeding programs. They promote themselves. 

Jesus never did these things. We think that doing ministry his way is small-time, so we rather use the ways of this world that yield physical or material rewards. We think Jesus' ways will give little results, if any. Because our physical eyes can only count and appreciate physical or material things. All our church efforts have resulted only in producing more religions, especially more "born-again" religions. 

But little do we know that if we keep up with the mustard-seed principle of God's Kingdom, we will grow into a wild, abnormal "mustard tree," something the world cannot imagine and have never seen---but something that gives genuine spiritual and radical rest for exhausted souls. 

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