God’s kingdom way of living comes with the expectation of growth. That’s my “sermon in a sentence” for this coming Sunday as we take a further step in worship at FBC Columbus with a few of Jesus’ kingdom images. It’s the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33) and growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) parables that occupy center stage this week. Both seem to be about growth. The question is “what kind of growth?” and “how do you measure growth?”
My theory is that we have terribly domesticated Jesus’ mustard seed word picture to the point of taming it’s impact.Mustard seed plants in Jesus’ day were invasive plants that had the capacity to take over a garden or field. If you’ve driven to Florida you might compare this to the kudzu plant that has so overtaken much of the roadsides. I’ll use the comparison of an invasive lawn weed that I battle annually at home called “spotted spurge”. I can’t stand that stuff and what it tries to do to my lawn. But that’s the kind of subversive reference Jesus may be making as he uses a mustard seed to talk about the kingdom way of living. It’s far from a quaint or cute reference that makes for a good wall hanging or throw pillow saying. What does such an invasive, taking over kind of plant suggest about the growth of God’s kingdom in and through our lives? The twin (and less familiar) parable I’m pairing the mustard seed up with also concerns seeds (Mk 4:26-29). We are given a picture of a sower scattering seed. A few days later Jesus says this sower reflects in wonderment and mystery on the growth of the seed. “He does not know how” it began to sprout and grow. As is so often the case God is the main character in the parable. God is the one who brings the growth.
These “growth images” that Jesus shared have been given to us to describe the life God hopes for us. Like any parable they are designed to lodge in our thinking, causing us to reflect as we mull them over, return to, remember and reconsider them.
We will be doing just that this Sunday, September 11th at First Baptist Church of Columbus.