It was one of those perfect fall evenings. Cool, crisp air and the smell of freshly fallen leaves provided a perfect accompaniment to the small flames glittering in the fire pit in our backyard.
My buddies arrived one by one, carrying their camping chairs. One brought cookies, another supplied pizza, somebody provided the beer as well. We all dragged into the backyard some of our personal baggage too. Disappointment, frustration, fatigue.
A Wednesday night in mid-October in a little backyard in Muncie, Indiana. Probably not where most people’s minds would wander at the mention of “The Kingdom of God,” but for me, it was a place where I experienced the Kingdom of God in a real, tangible, and meaningful way.
There wasn’t anything particularly special about that evening. We sat around the campfire and our discussions meandered through topics that included music, movies, jobs, and families.
But what happened for me as we sat around that firepit in my backyard was a little glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
I’ve heard a joke that one of Jesus’s greatest miracles was having 12 close friends in his 30s! That’s funny to me, but only because it hits so close to home. It’s tough to balance being a husband and a father while having a career and still maintaining friendships.
But I find that God often speaks to me through my friends. I need those guys in my life. I need them to tell me they can relate to my struggles, my insecurities, and my doubts. And I need them to bring me back to reality when my baggage keeps me from seeing the world with God’s perspective. Mostly, I just need them to be with me.
I think that’s what Jesus may have been getting at in Matthew 13 when he shares the parable of the mustard seed.
“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
When we carry out God’s mission work in the ebb and flow of our daily lives it usually doesn’t look like much. To look at each instance independently they would appear small and insignificant, like a mustard seed. But those small acts of love–lending an ear to a friend, showing kindness, and serving those in need–actually plant seeds that grow into something much larger and much more powerful.
As we enter this Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for the way God brings his Kingdom to earth through the small, mundane actions of those who love Him. I’m thankful for my friends who meet me where I am and help me see Jesus in the everyday. I’m thankful for a body of believers at a little church in downtown Muncie who are committed to planting mustard seeds all around our little corner of the world in order to bring the Kingdom of God to the here and now.
Where is God calling you to bring forth His Kingdom?
Don’t be burdened by a need for grandioso ideas. Just sow the seeds of love, joy, and peace as you walk through life and trust that God can bring about his Kingdom through even the tiniest acts of obedience–just as God used my friends as we sat around the fire in my backyard.