Have you ever had someone tell you a long story, only to find out that the conclusion means that imminent action is required? Or, maybe someone is going through a detailed discussion of some events, but it would have been a lot more interesting if they had shared the outcome first (and then described how it occurred). When we finally hear the key point, we say, “You could have led with that!”
Jesus often taught using stories (or parables), but His messages had a purpose. Whether He was using an illustration, or just giving His disciples some facts, He didn’t mess around with fluff, nor does any small talk seem to be recorded in the Gospels. (While I’m sure that Jesus had a lot of more casual conversations with His family and friends, I suppose that – since He was the Son of God – even His “regular” conversations were worth listening to carefully.)
So, what did Jesus lead with, when He taught about the Kingdom of God? Here are a couple of examples:
Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
Luke 13:18-21 NLT
Here, although Jesus used a couple of comparisons, He makes a straightforward point: In my own words, “In the Kingdom of God, a little bit [of God’s Word] can make a big difference”. And, in fact, Jesus’ ministry – along with what followed from it – proved that point:
- One man, Jesus Christ, provided a way of salvation from the penalty of sin (separation from God) for all who would accept it (John 3:16).
- Jesus message, invested in just a small number of followers, grew into a body of believers around the globe. In fact, from a single sermon about Jesus on Pentecost, thousands accepted Jesus (Acts 2:41).
- As Christians live according to Jesus’ teachings (which He mainly delivered over just a few years), countless acts of love and service in Jesus’s name have made lives better for innumerable recipients.
In the same way, none of us should consider the good news about Jesus to be too small, too weak, too outdated, or too unpopular to make a substantial difference. Just a single conversation could be the seed that grows into a changed life. A simple act of charity, or a small demonstration of what it means to follow Jesus – either of these could be the start of the Kingdom of God bringing its life-giving power into more lives. With the unlimited power of God behind it, His Word can multiply from person to person without its truth or potency becoming diluted. (Jesus illustrated this same point in another parable – see Matthew 13:1-23, where the Word of God in a willing heart can produce results up to a hundred-fold.)
However, in the writings of Paul (one of Jesus’ disciples), it is clear that there is more involved than just agreement.
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT
We can say that the Kingdom of God is powerful, and has transformed our lives for the better. If we aren’t acting upon that belief, though, allowing our surrender to God to be reflected in obedience to Him, maybe we shouldn’t expect to see the growth and change in our world that Jesus suggested.
And, as this verse shows us, we aren’t on our own in living according to what the Kingdom of God would tell us. We are able to live “by God’s power”, which is truly awesome in its scope. Becoming part of the Kingdom of God means having access to that power (although not to get our own way, but to get God’s way, which is far better – see Matthew 6:10).
So, if you have joined the Kingdom of God (by choosing to follow Jesus), be patient today, but also look for good things while you live as a participant in the Kingdom of God. The opportunity for you to see great works of God is available, if you will seek His Kingdom, receive it, and live in it.