Big Idea: It’s not about the size of the Kingdom. It’s about the presence of the Kingdom.
Purpose: To encourage listeners to focus on the presence, not size, of the Kingdom of God in their lives.
What do you think it would look like if the Kingdom of God showed up in your life?
About 15 years ago now, I started as pastor of a small church of around 40 people. That’s 40 in actual numbers, not in pastorally reported numbers!
I believed that if the Kingdom showed up, things would get BIG. I believed that if God showed up and he was at work, the trend lines would all go up.
The implication: if numbers didn’t go up, God isn’t at work.
I don’t know if you’ve ever faced that. I talked to someone recently who said,”Everything I get involved in goes south. I join a Board and the Board falls apart. I join a ministry and the ministry begins to suffer. What am I doing wrong?"
Most of us struggle with this tension: we feel small, we have small roles, we believe we have small talents, and we sometimes see small results – and yet we believe that if God shows up, the numbers will all go up as well.
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)
The Kingdom is like mustard seed – There are two things about mustard seeds. One is that they are small. When Jesus says the Kingdom is like mustard seed, he is saying that the Kingdom is small and insignificant and easy to miss.
Compare this with expectations that when God showed up, everything would change. They expected anything but that the Kingdom would be small when God shows up.
But here’s the other thing about mustard seed: it may be small, but it grows (32). It’s not the size of the mustard seed, it’s the presence of the mustard seed.
The Kingdom is also like yeast. When Jesus said this, people would be shocked – yeast was not a good thing. A lump of leaven is only 2% of the weight of dough.
How is the Kingdom like yeast? It’s pervasive. When it’s present, it’s transformative. It works its way through all the dough and changes everything.
Big idea: It’s not about the size of the Kingdom. It’s about the presence of the Kingdom. Where the Kingdom is present, it can be small – but it can change everything.
Most of us judge the Kingdom’s presence in our lives by size:
- Small roles
- Small talents
- Small results
Think of early church: some success in numbers, but overwhelmed, always moving to new areas where they were small.
What if the Kingdom of God was present in a small way in our lives? Would that be enough for us to believe that it will grow and transform everything around us?
Take our small roles and believe that if God reigns in our small role, that the Kingdom is growing and transformative.
Take our small talents, and believe that if God reigns in our small talents, God can take those talents and use them in ways we can’t imagine.
Take our small results. Do we believe that if the Kingdom is showing up in even the most miniscule ways that God can use those results to grow into something in a big way.
Jesus helps us to see that it doesn’t matter how small a role we have, how small our talents are, how small the results are. When the Kingdom is present, it is will grow. One day: its growth will be known to all (birds of air).
Imagine a group of people that didn’t believe that it’s about the size of the Kingdom, it is about the presence of the Kingdom. Imagine what would happen in a group of people who believed that if the Kingdom is present, even in a small way, that would change everything.