Small is Good: Communicating the Kingdom of God

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?
3D?
Poetry?
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.

Read more from Michael here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

VRcurator — 05/13/13 7:53 am

Thanks for your comment, Rick. Michael is a great writer - I hope you will check out some of his other works on his website, or take a look at his books.

Rick Duncan — 05/13/13 7:50 am

Beautiful. Inspiring. Thanks.

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I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
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I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
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