Small is Good

The most dominant theme in the teaching of Jesus isn’t about hell, money, or even righteousness. It’s about the kingdom of God. Most other subjects, in fact, are presented in a “kingdom-type” of understanding. Jesus taught broadly about the kingdom of God; most of these specific subjects somehow fit under that umbrella.

The kingdom of God is grand. It’s big. It’s universal. It’s what epic tales of good and evil are all based on. A good and loving king faces a mutiny of His rule led by a devastatingly devious and crafty enemy. The supposedly deposed king has a plan to win back the affection and allegiance of His people. A brave champion is sent to do battle for the sake of, amazingly, the very rebels who spurned the loving authority of the king in the first place. This fight will cost Him His life, but in the end, He will be victorious.

The kingdom of God—that’s what all of history, and the entire universe, is about. In the kingdom of God, Jesus is acknowledged and prized for who He is. He is the King, and He lovingly reigns over everything.

That is a beautiful story full of hope, longing, and heroism. So how does one communicate a story like that?

With visual effects?
Or a symphony, perhaps?

God’s redemptive story certainly warrants all those things. In truth, we are not just talking about “a” story here; we are talking about “the” story. This is the story that defines ethereal concepts like love, courage, and sacrifice. It’s only because of this story that we even have the vaguest notions of what these words mean. This is the tale that gives every moment of our lives and the lives of everyone who has ever lived meaning and purpose.

Contrary to what we expect, Jesus shockingly describes the kingdom of God—something very, very big and very, very important—in terms of something very, very small and seemingly very, very insignificant:

“How can we illustrate the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground” (Mark 4:30-31).

Jesus says that the kingdom is like … a mustard seed. He literally could not have picked anything smaller for the audience of Palestinians. If Jesus were going to compare the kingdom of God to something, given its great scope and magnificent grandeur, we might expect Him to say, “The kingdom of heaven is like a tidal wave.” Or, “The kingdom of heaven is like an elephant.” You know – something substantial. Something with great mass that literally shakes the ground when it approaches. Something visible for miles and miles and miles.

Not a mustard seed.

And yet in this simple phrase, Jesus affirms every single one of us who have wondered if our small lives of quiet faithfulness actually matter. The answer is a resounding yes.

Does it matter that you spend your days trying to raise children who love the Lord and know how to live as salt and light in the world?
Does it matter if you go to work in a professional environment everyday in a suit and tie, where you earn money and provide for your family?
Does it matter if you faithfully plug away at the same tasks day in and day out, with only the occasional invasion of the extraordinary?

It does. It matters very much. According to Jesus, small things make a huge amount of difference. Small things are very significant when your perspective is right.

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