Learning from the Mustard Seed
Part 2: Extending Beyond Ourselves in Love
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 (New Jerusalem Bible)
Another step towards the fruitfulness described in this parable is reaching out into our environment where we have been planted.
We that in the agricultural basis for this parable. Once a seed germinates it must extend itself into the soil and the air. It can’t bear fruit unless it goes beyond its shell and affirmatively engages its environment. No extension, no fruit.
Jesus teaches His disciples to do the same. He taught folks that came to Him (and us) that we must be light in our parts of the world, something that requires us to engage our environment. Matthew 5:14-16. He taught his first disciples (and us) that we must actively reach beyond ourselves to help others. Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 10:30-37. He gave us the great commission, a commission that can only be fulfilled by extending ourselves. Matthew 28:19, Acts 1:8. He sent His first disciples out into the area where they had been planted in ways that required them to extend their faith by taking it to others in complete reliance upon God’s provision, and scripture shows us the fruit that resulted from that. Luke 10:1-9, 17-19.
Jesus’ apostles likewise taught the early church that they (and us) must reach out to and actively engage our environment. They taught that we must actively support each other within the church. Romans 12:19Galatians 6:2Ephesians 6:18, James 1:14-16Hebrews 13:3James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:17-19 . They also taught that we must be ready to engage folks who are attracted to the faith Colossians 4:5-6, 1 Peter 3:15-16. All of those things require that we move beyond ourselves and into our environment
In short, the implicit logic of this parable, Jesus’ consistent teaching in other contexts, and the Apostles teachings all tell us the same thing—we must affirmatively reach out and engage our world to reach the high level of fruitfulness the parable describes.