What would our world look like if it were everything God intends? Peace, understanding, comfort, satisfaction, true abundance for everyone—everywhere?

Maybe something like that.

We might never see it in our lifetimes. But in the meantime, there is this place and this moment. The kingdom is keen to break in.

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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.”

Matthew 13:31–32

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Ever notice how teams with animal mascots pick strong, fast, fierce animals? Lions, tigers, eagles, vipers; not earthworms, crickets, sloths, or tadpoles. Okay, there are the TCU Horned Frogs, but you get my point. National symbols work the same way. Ben Franklin argued that the turkey is a much nobler bird than the bald eagle, but nobody agreed.

Jesus says the kingdom is like . . . a huge oak tree? A maple? Nope—a mustard plant, small and common, not big and majestic. Mustard greens start from small seeds, and they grow like crazy; and if you don’t pull them and eat them (as most people did and still do), they grow into a sort of bush.

God’s kingdom—this place where God’s love is stronger than any other power, human or cosmic—doesn’t look powerful, doesn’t have tanks or armies. God’s kingdom is small and ordinary; it’s full of peace-lovers and people who feed the poor. But it has spread worldwide, and lots of us birds call it home.

Richard Vinson

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Dear God, please help me live where your mustard seeds grow, and help me to grow along with them. Amen.

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Maybe it’s not just a romantic notion. The kingdom comes in things that are very small, but that can become something great; something worth giving everything you have to be part of it.

The kingdom is something fine, worth more than we can imagine. And it is worth all the more when we share what we know about it, though we will never understand it completely.

Go now to give it all away.

Richard Vinson

Richard Vinson teaches religion at Salem College and first grade Sunday School at Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He and his wife, Diane Lipsett, between them have five sons, one daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, a dog, and three cats.

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