He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
(Matthew 13:31-33 NRSV)
“Better to be an honest sinner than a phoney saint;” so goes the adage, and there is a great deal of truth in it.
Jesus mixed with all kinds of people who were far from perfect, and who continued to be far from perfect even after their encounter with him. They were a bit like you and me, in fact.
But that encounter with him did change lives, perhaps especially the lives of those who became his followers. And herein lies the “secret.” Jesus did not turn up on a “battle bus” with political manifesto; nor did he raise an army to change the world by force. In fact, it’s pretty clear that he didn’t want to found a new religion (boy, did we ever get that one wrong!).
What he did do was establish that which we pray about every time we use the Lord’s Prayer: the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven).
The citizens of this kingdom are not primarily those who are holier than the rest of us; who say all the right things and who know all the correct theology. They may be such people but that is not the qualification for citizenship of God’s Kingdom.
The citizens of the kingdom will be ordinary frail human beings who will, despite their many imperfections and their daily struggles, live out the kingdom values in the “little” things of everyday life, as described in the many teachings of Jesus.
Those small acts will be the mustard seeds of the Kingdom, the unseen yeast in the dough which, over time can combine together to transform our world much more than the rhetoric and exhortations of a thousand preachers.
show me the ways in which
my attitudes and actions
may serve your transforming Kingdom.