Read Mark 4:21-34
Another time Jesus tells the story of a mustard seed. ‘Want to know what the kingdom of God is like?’ he asks. “It’s like a mustard seed, though it is one of the tiniest of seeds it grows to be amongst the mightiest of trees”. Jesus was telling those who were willing to listen something of God’s plan. See God wasn’t coming with swords and flaming chariots, God’s Kingdom wouldn’t overthrow the Roman Empire in a sudden battle, but it would be gradual. It would begin almost unnoticed, through one man, almost deemed too insignificant to make a difference, who would be killed before his fame had even spread. But he would speak of God’s amazing plan to a small group of followers, and this small group would continue after he had left. They would tell and retell what Jesus had taught them. The name of Jesus would begin to spread, still slowly, but gradually and over time the name of Jesus would become great. It would be recognised as the name through which all may be saved.
Yet it wasn’t immediate, it wasn’t sudden, it wasn’t a bloody battle, but it was a conquest of love spread through relationships. And it isn’t over. You may feel insignificant, but I wonder if you are any more insignificant than the tiniest of seeds; the wonder of God’s plan is that he uses the insignificant to shame the mighty.
As humans we have a tendency to be impatient. We want to save the world and we want to save it tomorrow, and yet this isn’t God’s plan. God’s plan is a gradual movement of love through individual relationships. I don’t know of a single person who has come to a saving relationship with Jesus who was not impacted through a personal relationship with a Jesus follower beforehand. Sure I have friends who became Christian at big rallies where a powerful speaker told them of Jesus – but when you stop to really hear their story you always learn that the speaker was the last in a line of different individuals who had shared the gospel with that person in a series of relationships. Sometimes it was their friend, sometimes a parent, sometimes a co-worker or neighbour.
One of my favourite stories of God using the seemingly insignificant is my mother’s story. My mum knew about God growing up, but by the time she had married my father and was a wonderful mother to four children it would be fair to say that she did not have a personal saving relationship. Around that time a young married couple moved next door to my parents. Because of the wife’s friendship with my mother, my mother began attending church and dragging her kids along. Because of this I grew up from a young age knowing about God and accepted Jesus as my Saviour as a young teenager.
As an adult, I went back to ask my neighbour what the story was, and she said it was very simple. The bible told her that she had to spread God’s word and so when she moved into the street my parents lived, she introduced herself to each neighbour as a Christian. Then through countless cups of coffee she built genuine relationships with her neighbours through which she shared who Jesus was.
Now to be honest, apart from my mum, I don’t know how many other women accepted Jesus as King because of our neighbour. So, was it worth it? A lifetime dedicated to your neighbours and only one acceptance? Well, this is the power of the mustard seed. My mum may be the only lady that I am aware of, but my mother dragged me and my siblings along to church. Because we attended church, myself and two of my siblings are also Jesus followers and I believe the knock on effect will continue. I have had the joy of seeing others become Christians during my time as a youth leader and I know that my siblings have also had an impact in the community that they are a part of. The truth is any person that has been impacted because I willingly follow Jesus as King have my mother’s neighbour to thank. The fact is in the end I don’t know if we will ever be able to grasp the impact that those cups of coffee my neighbour was willing to share had. But I thank God that she had them.
- What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- Who is a friend that you can be praying for everyday?
- In a time when you can’t invite friends to ignite/youth/church events – how can you share Jesus with this friend?
- How could you connect with someone (remembering social distancing) outside of your family to encourage or be a friend to this week?