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?
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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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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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.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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