Starting Small

Jesus explained that the Kingdom of God starts very small but grows in an outsized way to become extremely large, given how it started. Here is what he said:

He told them another parable: “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 in its branches.”

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Matthew 13:31-33

A few things that I noticed here:

First, both of these parables start with “the kingdom of heaven is like…”, so if we want to know how we can expect the Kingdom to work, we should pay attention when Jesus starts a sentence like this.

This is notable because most of our earthly kingdoms appear to run on the idea that “bigger is better” and “might makes right”, but of course a kingdom that starts as big as a mustard seed or a yeast spore doesn’t seem to be much at all.

Next, given its starting size, it will seem like nothing for some time. Even after it has grown to twice its size, it will seem that it hasn’t done anything. After it grows three or four times its size, nothing.

But it isn’t an issue of the size. It is an issue of the DNA within the seed, or within the spore. It is a question of reproduction, not size. Size will follow reproduction. Reproduction does not follow size.

Third and finally, there is an end point of full maturity. The small thing that becomes large does so because it has become mature. The point of maturity, whether it is because it has reached the end of what it can consume, as in the case of the yeast spores that work its way through the dough, or in the case of the mustard seed that grows to full maturity, enough to house all of the birds, there is a place of maturity that it wants to go and grow toward.

So these are elements that we need to learn from as well. As disciple-makers and church planters, we may be starting small, but our DNA should be that of replication and growth.

We may seem to stay small for some time, but if we are growing, we are going in the right direction.

And God will take us to maturity. He will finish the work. He will do with us what he wants and will continue the work the fullest extent that he wants it to go. It is His work and it is His final product that we will see established and sustained.

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