How do you imagine the Kingdom of God? You may not have a specific visual image for it, but take a moment to consider what images the idea of the Kingdom of God brings up in your mind.
Now picture a seed - not a massive seed like a coconut, nor a beautifully feathered one like a dandelion, nor a tasty one like a sunflower - just an ordinary little brown seed that you might plant in a garden.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a seed - not a grand or beautiful one - but like a mustard seed, which was the smallest seed commonly used in farming in his day. It is a deliberately anti-heroic image. The kingdom of God is like a small, plain, brown thing - but a small, plain, brown thing that grows.
It is a common error to imagine the things of God as being bright and spectacular. Ancient philosophers spoke of God as being greater than the greatest being imaginable. But remember the story of Elijah: there was a great wind, and an earthquake and a fire, but God wasn’t in any of these; then there came a gentle whisper, and Elijah heard the voice of God. Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed recalibrates our perspective on God. The kingdom of God is like a tiny seed.
Like all of Jesus’ parables, this parable can lead our imaginations down numerous intriguing paths. Here is one of them: the work of God in this world is made up of tiny opportunities - opportunities to love, to care and to forgive. The work of God is not made up of grand gestures, and ecstatic visions, but of the small and plain moments when we choose to do the godly thing. These barely noticeable incedents of godliness are like seeds; they grow and they bear fruit, and they change the world.
Consider yourself going out into God’s world equipped with a pocketful of small, plain seeds. Keep on the lookout for opportunities to plant them in the everyday needs and struggles of the world around you. This is the kingdom of God.