When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” ~ Luke 13:17-19
Not to correct our Lord, but I have one bit of disagreement with Jesus here.
Tree probably isn't the best word to describe what the mustard seed grows into. Shrub, or bush would be a better description.
However, it's easy to accept Jesus' botanical inaccuracy as hyperbole. OK, so maybe the bush was so big that it passed for a tree. A tree big enough to hold up the birds of the air and their nests.
And that is certainly a possibility.
The Kingdom of God then we know starts as something small and grows into something big and strong and powerful.
That's not a bad image. If we stopped with that image, I'd say we would be well on our way to beginning to understand the Kingdom of God.
But calling it the shrub that it is rather than a tree tells us something else about the Kingdom of God. Something more in line with the second part of this parable.
What do shrubs and yeast have in common?
They invade. They take over. They grow and grow and grow until they spoil what's around them, turning what's around them into something else altogether.
The Kingdom of God spoils?
Spoils the way yeast "spoils" flour turning it into delicious bread.
Spoiling the way shrubs take over the other plants getting in their way.
Make no mistake. The Kingdom of God is an invader. It isn't about us harmoniously waiting to get our cloud in a peaceful Heaven.
It's about Heaven taking over earth. Spoiling our best laid plans and desires and turning them into something new. Something terrifying.
Something of God.
The Kingdom of God is meant to spread like wildfire. Burning away all our assumptions, our judgments, our anger, our hostility, our racism, our sexism, our consumerism, and all our other isms so that God can get about the work of saving this world.
The Kingdom of God is meant to destabilize us and remind us whose world this is.
So the next time something you hear about God, about faith, about life, about worship, about theology, or about Jesus and it scares you, or it confronts your assumptions or challenges you...
The Kingdom of God might just be working its way into you just like that yeast being worked into that loaf of bread.
The Kingdom of God invading our lives brings us into kinship with it and with each other.
Making that Kingdom a Kin-dom.
Lord, spread your good news like wildfire and let me not get in your way!