We live in a fast-paced world. Everything is moving faster, it seems, especially with the growth of technology. We have fast, high-speed Internet access. We have highly technological televisions that can download movies, update our computers, and tell us the weather forecast all with the touch of a button. Technology has sped up life to where we live in an instant-moment culture. Life happens in the now.
The growth of technology has some benefits. Our children will be able to see and do things we could never have imagined. We can have conversations and relationships with people from different cultures and countries. It amazes me that I can have a conversation with a friend from Germany simply through the use of my computer.
But, there are drawbacks. Because technology has sped up life, we want things to take place now. We no longer want to wait for things to happen. We do not believe we have the time, or energy, for things to take place naturally. If it cannot happen now, or in a short period of time, we believe it is not worth the effort. We want the get rich quick plan. We want all that this life has to offer and we want it now.
As well, we measure ourselves by how we see others. If someone else has a bigger house, then our house isn’t big enough, even if it comfortably houses our entire family. If someone has a bigger car, then we need a bigger car, even if we can’t really afford the payments.
When it comes to faith, we do the same thing. We want the vast riches of the Christian life today, and sometimes we are not willing to wait. We are, sometimes, unwilling to be patient in our growth in Christ. If we are not a deeply-devoted, heart-changed person in a few weeks of coming to a new church, or giving our life over to Christ, then, in our consumer-driven mindset, we are looking over our shoulder to see what other options exist.
We will even compare ourselves to other Christians. If we see someone growing in their relationship with the Lord, or serving the Lord, we may look at ourselves, and get discouraged and say, “Why can’t I be like that?” Instead of those words being an encouragement of growth, they become a discouragement that leads to separation. This is a separation between ourselves and the larger community, and ourselves and God. We feel that if we don’t have the biggest faith, the deepest relationship, or even the best devotional life that we don’t measure up in the kingdom of God.
That is simply not the case when we look throughout the story of Scripture.
It is a mindset that runs counter to what Christ is saying in our passage today. Christ doesn’t use the analogy of the largest thing possible, but instead uses the smallest of seeds in order to point us to what it means to live in a deeply committed relationship with God.
Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Now, let’s stop for a moment. We know that Jesus is using an analogy to describe what it means to follow and trust God. So, Jesus is saying this vast reality that is the reign of God here on Earth, both today and to come, is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds and you can barely see with the naked eye. When this seed is planted, it grows and becomes one of the largest plants around. It’s a plant that can grow to as heigh as 15 feet. Think about it, something as small as a mustard seed can reach extraordinary heights when it is planted and allowed to grow.
This is what Christ is getting at in this parable. When the kingdom of God is planted in our hearts, in our churches, and in our communities, it has the ability to grow, through the grace of God, to extraordinary heights and abilities. As the Word is planted in the depths of our soul, and we chose the narrow way of following Christ, we see the kingdom of God expand. It takes on a new and lively form. It becomes a beautiful creation that branches out and produces life that is hard for us to imagine, but beautiful to experience.
When we place our faith – that is when we trust and believe with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – in God, we allow this seed to grow. It doesn’t grow overnight. It is an ongoing process of becoming “perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect,” this path of Christian discipleship and sanctification. We are called to grow like that mustard seed, so that the kingdom of God can reach its full potential in our hearts, and in the lives of those around us.
We can only grow as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, and through us. This means we have to move past the barriers that we place that prevents the work of the Spirit to take place in our souls. We must be willing, daily, to let Christ grow in our hearts, so we can grow in our faith.
If the smallness of the mustard seed says anything to us, today, it is that it doesn’t matter where we are, we are called to grow. We can be that beautiful big plant in our lives. We can have a church that is as big as a mustard plant.
Imagine that the smallest of faiths can do amazing things for the kingdom of God, and grow in the richness of a deep relationship with God.
Matthew 17:20 tells us that a faith as small as a mustard seed can move the mountains. Even if we believe we have a faith that isn’t big enough for God to use, God is saying otherwise. God continually says that the smallest of faiths can do the impossible. The smallest of faiths can reach out in love to those who are hurting. It can proclaim justice and reconciliation. It can proclaim God’s love for all people, regardless of race, sex, culture, or background. The smallest of faiths can grow to a deeply committed relationship with God, which produces more disciples who are following what it means to live like Christ in the world today.
No matter the size of your faith, God calls us to grow in our relationship and our discipleship. God calls us to take on this journey of discipleship. It is a long journey, but a journey that is worth our time and our passion. We are not going to be changed people overnight, but in time the old will wash away. Eventually, through the love of Christ a new person will emerge. The journey leads us to a beautiful and deeply committed relationship with Christ that transforms everything about us, and everything around us.
The smallest of faiths can impact our communities. If the smallest of faiths can move mountains, then it can certainly work to transform our communities. As we grow in our faith, we inspire others to live closer to God. Our faith impacts and transforms our families. It spreads the fruit of the spirit across the lines of our communities and proclaims the love of Christ in all places, in all communities, and at all times. The smallest of faiths can be inspirational and guide others to be transformative.
For this to happen, we cannot say that we do not have enough faith to walk this road, or this isn’t for me. The path of discipleship, of growth in Christ, is for all believers – big and small. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, the smallest of faiths in our hearts can grow into something beautiful.
If the smallest of individual faiths can grow into a new creation, and inspire others to do the same, then so can the smallest of churches. The smallest of churches, when it is planted in the Gospel can be a living representation of the kingdom of God. Too often, we have the tendency to believe the larger church is the only one capable of being a reflection of the Kingdom in our world today. That is not true. My friends, I believe the small church is up for the task, and I believe we are up for the task as well. We can, and we shall, make a difference in the lives of those around us, through our witness of love and hope that comes from the depths of our relationship with Christ.
As a church, if we are planted like that mustard seed great things will happen. If we are planted in the Word, if we proclaim the living hope of Christ Jesus, lives will be transformed, hope will be proclaimed, reconciliation will take place in our communities. Growth will take place, both spiritually and numerically. It will take time, and it will not happen overnight. But it can happen, if we are willing to be rooted in the depths of the kingdom.
To grow, we are going to have to look like the kingdom. In order to be a disciple, we have to take on the message of Christ, and as a church we have to take on the message of Christ. If we do not, then what message are we proclaiming each week?
The kingdom knows no race, it knows no culture. It knows only our future and our hope that lives in Christ Jesus. We are all one in Christ, and one with each other. We must be willing to invite people, to reach out to people, and to engage people in ways that proclaims the love of Christ, and Christ’s desire for them to know that love that is already at work in their life. It is going to take all of us, working together, through the love of the Holy Spirit, to see to it that the mustard seed in our church grows, is taken care of, and harvested as a living reflection of the kingdom of God in our communities.
The mustard seed has been planted and the Word has been proclaimed. It is up to us to respond, so that the seed will grow in our hearts, and in the life of this church, so that others may be transformed and come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.