Jesus goes way out of His way to prepare His disciples for disappointment in living in God’s Kingdom or working in His Church. Whether He is comparing Heaven’s Kingdom to a mustard seed or a farmer frustrated with weeds in his garden, Jesus makes one thing clear: God does not rule like the disciples would expect. His mighty army of followers would look more like a bunch of misfits and weaklings.
It is hard to skip over Jesus’ constant humbling of expectations. I have taught my congregation many times the importance of seeing things through Christ’s eyes and not ours. Yet still, when challenges occur, when church leaders fall, when western civilization finally sucks all it can from Christian virtues and turns around to eat it, I am in shock. Pastors who should know better feign surprise. Books are written about what is wrong with the Church. Cottage industry consultants make parasitic income offering basic advice. Christians whine about persecution and martyrdom as opposed to applauding and desiring it like heroes of old.
I wonder if we think Jesus description of God’s reign as a mustard seed was only meant for people back then. We think we have evolved. We have built mansions with crosses. We have founded universities with statues of Jesus. We have named cities after saints. We fooled ourselves into believing the mustard seed had sprouted.
It has not. The Kingdom of Heaven is still like a mustard seed. Weeds are still in the garden. Christ’s Church never did take over the culture or society. Sinners are still needing forgiveness. Saints are still falling. Resurrected souls are still struggling with dying bodies. And the world still tramples God’s children.
Do not let the buildings fool you, the AV or Pipe Organ sway you, the arenas or expensive stoles confuse you. Jesus still moves in small ways among small people, even tiny infants. He collects beggars and divorcees. He hangs out with drug addicts and gangsters. He even pours grace and gives promises of remission of sins and sickness to plain old middle-class, boring repeat offenders like me.
While the world thinks it has defeated the big ole Church like it did Jesus, the Body of Christ slips under its radar quietly serving her enemies and rescuing the wounded. When Christ arose, no one thought to look for Him in a graveyard. Yet, that is where He does His best work – where people feel guilty and people are dead.
God’s reign might look like a mustard seed, but it packs a punch like a hurricane or the hug of a long-lost son. Jesus is just as effective now through His motley crew as He ever was. Do not worry about that.
And soon, very soon, you might see that mustard seed turn into the largest bush in the garden. On the last day, when He is revealed, and His garden is revealed, and you are revealed as the person He says you are – righteous and resurrected. Do not worry. You will get your mustard tree. Come Lord Jesus.