Appreciating the small and surprising are themes from this week. We are reminded that God uses different criteria for greatness (1 Samuel 15). The world looks on appearances, but God has eyes that see more deeply. When Samuel goes looking for Saul’s successor, God enables him to see things in David that no one else can see. By calling David, God reveals David’s hidden talents that will lead to greatness. In the Gospel lesson Jesus reminds us of the same greatness, which rests in the tiniest of objects, a mustard seed. God sees the hidden potential in the mustard seed that is difficult for humans to fathom. The parable of Jesus compares the mustard seed to the kingdom of God, something that would be difficult for us to fathom without the help of a parable. Both David and the mustard seed flourish with a few key ingredients. They both are creations of God. They both receive nurture by human or natural care. Both also face trials. David faces an angry Saul and his own self-imposed disgrace.
Imagine the natural calamities a mustard bush encounters over the years it takes to become full grown. Yet the Lord clearly marks their growth as a sign of the Spirit among the people, bringing to life the talents that God knew was always present, even if doubted by humans. Paul, addressing the young church in Corinth, reflects this same theme of surprise. He, too, knows the futility of focusing on outward appearance and proclaims, “We regard no one from a human point of view.” God sees us differently, as a “new creation”. The Lord has plans for the small and surprising elements among us and within us.
We, who have received the good news of God’s love bought to us by Jesus, no longer place our security in the powers of this world. Sure, I still will wear my seatbelt and look both ways before I cross the street, but I am no longer under the illusion that any power of this age is my protection or my home. I will continue to be hit with anxiety because, I attempt to keep myself and family safe, but I crash into the reality that I am not in control. I cannot keep myself safe. I cannot keep my family safe. I cannot control world politics. Paul’s words to the Corinthians remind me how this is good news, and not reason for anxiety. My attempts at control end only in anxiety and frustration— it is like trying to keep sand from falling through your fingers. Trusting in God’s control, on the other hand, allows me to leave my home.
So is the kingdom of God— the inward kingdom is like seed which a person casts into the ground— this a preacher of the Gospel casts into the heart. And the person sleeps and rises night and day— That is, they have it continually in their thoughts. Meantime it springs and grows up we know not how— Even the person that sowed it cannot explain how it grows. For as the earth by a curious kind of mechanism, which the greatest philosophers cannot comprehend, does as it were spontaneously bring forth first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear: so the soul, in an inexplicable manner, brings forth, first weak graces, then stronger, then full holiness: and all this of itself, like a machine, whose spring of motion is within itself. Yet observe the amazing exactness of the comparison. The earth brings forth no corn (as the soul no holiness) without both the care and toil of humanity, and the benign influence of heaven.