As a kid growing up I loved Transformers. And if I am honest there is still a part of me that loves them. Transformers were so appealing because they could transform. A car or plane could change into a robot. They were more than what they seemed. They could become something you would not expect.
When describing the nature of the Kingdom of God I think Jesus might have used a Transformer to illustrate His point. But since they were not available in 1stcentury Israel He chose to use seeds and leaven. In Luke 13 Jesus first compares the Kingdom to a mustard seed. The seed is planted and eventually grows into a tree large enough to shelter birds. Then He compares the Kingdom to leaven. A small amount of leaven is able to make enough bread to feed dozens of people.
With these illustrations Jesus is saying the Kingdom of God may start out small like the mustard seed, but eventually, it will grow. Sure enough that is what history has recorded. God’s Kingdom begins with 12 VERY unlikely leaders who come from a backwoods portion of the Roman Empire. And yet, the Kingdom advances through the years and now reaches every continent. Furthermore, like leaven, the Kingdom is working in the cultures and communities in which it is placed. It is permeating and influencing people. This influence is often unseen on the surface. But make no mistake. The Kingdom’s lack of visibility is in no way a sign of its lack of power, influence, and ability to affect change.
These are needed reminders for us today. It can be tempting to wonder if God is at work in our culture today. We turn on the news or look on social media and see suffering, rebellion, and chaos. We wonder, where is God in all of this? Is He at work?
Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom will not be shaken. And it is advancing. We may not always see it, but rest assured Jesus is still the King. He is sovereignly ruling over all of creation. And His Kingdom continues to grow. We can be comforted knowing that despite the horrors of our world Jesus is still in control and working everything for His ultimate purpose.
But let us not forget that we too have a role to play in the advancement of the Kingdom. But it is not in the way we may think. God’s Kingdom is not advanced through political means. It is not about getting the right person elected. Nor is it about fancy marketing or cool and trendy worship services. There is nothing inherently wrong with either of those things. In fact, God can and sometimes does use things such as those to help advance His agenda. However, we must be careful. We must guard against putting our trust in the means God sometimes uses more than God Himself.
As we survey Scripture we see that the Kingdom grows as God’s people, the church, display a total and radical reliance on Him, exhibited through prayer. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come. We ask God to work on our behalf, to give us boldness to share, to give us favor with others.
And then we allow God to grow His Kingdom through us as we fulfill the call in Matthew 28 to make disciples. We invest in the lives of others the good news of the Gospel and demonstrate what it means to follow Jesus. We do this with the intent that those whom we disciple will go out and make disciples as well, moving the Kingdom of God forward.
And so, let us keep our chin up and let not our confidence and determination be shaken. Jesus is still the King, His Kingdom will not be overthrown or defeated. We may suffer what appear to be losses and setbacks in this life, but we continue to trust that God is sovereign over it all. And therefore we can continue to entrust our souls to our faithful Creator while doing good (1 Peter 4:19). All the while seeing the Kingdom of God spread like leaven throughout the world.