“God is always at work around you.” If you’ve been through the study Experiencing God, you will recognize those words. That statement is the foundational truth of that fantastic study.
But, pastor, do you believe that? Do you believe God is always at work in the world around you? Do you believe that God is at work in your church? In your community? In your family? Do you believe He’s been actively working even during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In Mark 4:26-34, Jesus explains this foundational truth using a parable about a farmer and seed. He begins by reminding us that so much growth happens when we aren’t even paying attention.
God will grow His kingdom
In verses 26-27, Mark writes: “’The kingdom of God is like this,’ he said. ‘A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how.’” There is a mystery to this. God is at work around us in ways that we can’t even see. Could it be that, in the middle of a pandemic, God is at work bringing real, lasting revival to dying and declining churches?
But don’t miss the certainty in this passage. In verses 28-29, Jesus reminds us that, “The soil produces a crop by itself – first the blade, then the head, and then the full head of grain on the head.” While we can’t be completely sure how God is at work in these days in our communities, states, nation, and even our world, we can rest assured that He is at work. And we can trust that, someday soon, the harvest will come.
Though the kingdom began small, it will grow large.
In verses 30-34, Jesus talks about how the tiny mustard seed grows into a giant bush that provides shade for the birds. Jesus uses this to illustrate something about the growth of the kingdom of God. Interestingly, we see this play out in the book of Acts. In Acts 1, we’re told there are 120 believers gathered together. As far as we can tell, this is the vast majority of the existing believers in the world at that time. Fast-forward about 30 years, and we see countless thousands of believers all around the known world! And now, 2,000 years later, we follow this same Jesus that the apostles wrote about in the first century. Look at how God has grown the kingdom!
And he’s not done yet. Revelation 7:9-10, John writes these words:
After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Rev. 7:9-10 CSB)
Pastor, we have this guarantee! God will grow His Kingdom. You and I get to be a part of it!
Why this matters
I’m afraid that, often, in the work of replanting, we can put on blinders and only see the hard work of day-to-day ministry. If we aren’t careful, we can forget the foundational truth that God is always at work in the world around us. And we have been promised that God will grow His kingdom! He will grow it through a pandemic, through an economic shutdown and, yes, even through difficult deacons and bad business meetings.
So, pastor, don’t lose heart. God is not done with your church, and He’s certainly not done with growing His kingdom.
Henry & Richard Blackaby remind us, “God is always at work in the world around you,” but they don’t stop there. They also tell us we must find where God is at work and join Him. So, pastor, where is God at work around you? And how can you – and your church – join Him in that work?,