“Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.””
Luke 13:18-21 NKJV
We humans like to look at success by the numbers, we seek the bigger, the stronger, the faster, the more numerous, and look upon the greater gain as proof of quality. Very often, we try as we might to apply this to the church of Jesus. This mindset has been the thinking throughout the history of Christianity, and is ever present even today.
I have often wondered if that was what the Lord intended, and if the focus on bigness has been a stumbling block for the followers of Jesus. In the current times, there has been a tendency to focus on things that can but people in the pews. Seeker sensitivity is all the rage.
I can tell you, when I was in the world, bound in my sin, I was certainly not seeking God. Seekers are looking for a spiritual experience that does not threaten their sin.
Reading Luke thirteen this morning, I encountered the allegories of the kingdom of God. Looking at these verses from my flesh, I might think that a mustard growing into a tree was a good thing. Imagine this time tree, growing strong and huge, climbing high, giving rest to birds.
In truth a mustard plant is a small shrub, small, but fitting its purpose. The growth in the passage is unnatural, not as God had designed. The presence of the birds of the air is not a good thing in the Bible. I think of the baker in Genesis, who had the dream interpreted by Joseph.
“When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.” So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.””
Genesis 40:16-19 NKJV
If birds are resting in the branches of the tree, then evil has room to rest. In the parable of there sowers the birds fulfill their evil purpose, snatching the word of God from the hearts of believers before they can grow. In many large churches, the word of God is forsaken, replaced by books about God and the word of God. When it is presented, it is twisted. It is like seed cast to the wayside.
“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.”
Matthew 13:3-4 NKJV
Leaven is great in making bread, but in the Bible it is a type of pervasive sin, that spreads and infects the whole of the loaf. Many Christians have turned away from holiness, opting to feed their flesh than see to the needs of the Spirit. Like the leaven in the passage, sin is often hidden, as people sit in the pews, presenting as godly believers, but inside are ravenous wolves seeking to satisfy lusts.
If the sin is left unchecked, it spreads, and is infused into the whole congregation.
Brothers and sisters, let us be alert to the truth of the passage, and be mindful that we are living in a time when seemingly few are focused on the things of God. Let us also be aware that it is our own walk with the Lord that is of greatest concern. When we stand before the Lord, we will not stand as members of such and such church, or even the Church as a whole.
We will stand individually, for our walk with Christ is a twenty-four/seven endeavor, and we represent Jesus whether we are in the pew or not. The focus is on us, the focus is on you, it is on me.
This includes the rapture that we long for. Each of us will be evaluated on our own standing, being sinners forgiven, saved by faith, converted, and not because we simply walked an aisle or said a “sinner’s prayer”. Your obedience and walk of faith will determine your eternal stature in the coming kingdom.
May we be people, focused on the spreading of the Gospel as presented in the word of God. May we be ones to whom the Lord Jesus says “well done”. It is not about making a big church, but is truly about making deep believers, true disciples who go and tell of the great salvation in Jesus.
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