Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dingwall, Mustard Seed and Kingdom

Jesus said... "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

Pliny the Elder said...Mustard...with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once. (Pliny was a Roman author 23 - 79AD)

John Dominic Crossan said...There is a distinction between the wild mustard and its domesticated counterpart, but even when one deliberately cultivates the latter for its medicinal or culinary properties, there is an ever present danger that it will destroy the garden. The mustard plant is dangerous even when domesticated in the garden, and is deadly when growing wild in the grain fields. And those nesting birds, which may strike us as charming, represented to ancient farmers a permanent danger to the seed and the grain. The point, in other words, is not just that the mustard plant starts as a proverbially small seed and grows into a shrub three, four, or even more feet in height. It is that it tends to take over where it is not wanted, that it tends to get out of control, and that it tends to attract birds within cultivated areas, where they are not particularly desired. And that, said Jesus, was what the Kingdom was like. Like a pungent shrub with dangerous take over properties. Something you would want only in small and carefully controlled doses – if you could control it. (Jesus – A Revolutionary Biography, Crossan 1989 pg65)

I say… in Dingwall the coming of the Kingdom of God would be a great and terrible thing, for it would also bring the King of that Kingdom, Jesus. Like the wild mustard plant Jesus and His Kingdom would spread rapidly, out of the control of those who seek to take hold of it to manipulate. In each and every way, religious people do not want a Jesus and a Kingdom that they cannot control. Yet one thing is sure, Jesus and His Kingdom will have control, and in Dingwall this has already begun, and it will continue, but it is not where you would expect to find it, should I tell you where it is? Maybe you need to look a little harder, but here are some clues as to where it might be. God has in his wisdom placed it in the hands of those he can trust to not abuse the power inherent.

The Kingdom of God is given and entrusted to those in whom there is less of self and more of God and his rule. It is given to those who have given up on a futile struggle for power and ascendancy, to those who are content with just who they are—no more, no less, given to those who have found themselves to be proud owners of everything that cannot be bought.

He entrusts the Kingdom to those who are hungry for true worship and those who thirst after the Spirit, to those who show mercy to others, whatever the circumstances or provocation, to those who are right inside, in the heart of matters, he gives it to those who always provide a way of peace to a warring world.

God gives the Kingdom to those who like little children, go about their days with simplicity of heart, not worrying about tomorrow, to those who will not get bossy as they teach, who will stick to God’s message of hope, to those who encourage in guidance, to those who do not manipulate, or who do not get irritated or depressed when those weaker struggle to comprehend.

He gives it to those who love with no mask that hides the darkness of their hearts, to those who run from evil, and yet in that running they cling to the good, keeping the baby whilst discarding the bathwater, to those who in all they do esteem their brothers and sisters more highly than themselves, serving and preferring another to themselves.

To those who are alert to the words of the master, having expectant hearts, not giving up when things get tough and difficult, but who pray even harder in those times, helping those in need and being an example in being hospitable and welcoming. To those who bless there enemies, yes bless them, not cursing under their breath and backstabbing, who know how to laugh and to cry, not thinking themselves higher than any other, associating with the weak, the outcasts, the down and outs, not looking to be a star with their name in lights, centre stage.

To those who seek and look and persevere to find the beauty in everyone, who live at peace with others, regardless of personal cost, not looking to get even, not living by the code of an ‘eye for an eye’, for sadly the world has lived by this code for too long, an eye for an eye, and now everyone is blind.

To these people God will hand the keys of the Kingdom and to these people times of trouble, strife and persecution will come, because these people will carry the light of the Kingdom, and the darkness has always tried to snuff it out. Yet all it takes is one light, and in this present darkness even a tiny light will shine bright.

And in the gospels we find this huge and massive weight placed on the small and insignificant, and no more so in Jesus thought around the mustard seed. This parable opens up to the hearers the realisation that Gods Kingdom plan is almost beyond comprehension, and it is because the plan and scope is so vast that Jesus reduces it to a size that his hearers would be able to grasp. He reduces it knowing that in time it will grow and expand in their hearts as they experience life in that very Kingdom.

Can you see where it is then?

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