God’s Growing kingdom (Mark 4:26-34)

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The imagery throughout Mark 4 is centred on this small seed which gets planted, buried in the ground and begins to grow. Yes there’s this period of time when it’s hidden from sight, when n-one knows what happens, yes there are the obstacles: birds, rocks, thorns but growth and fruitfulness is inevitable.

That’s what we see here in verses 26-34. We see two parables that show how God’s Word brings life and growth. In the first parable, there’s this overnight growth. It’s a reminder that our responsibility is to “just keep sowing.” God does the work of bringing a harvest.  I think it also encourages us to think in terms of growth being natural. You see, left to themselves, that’s what living things want to do.  I believe that local churches, generally speaking, over time if God’s word is taught, if there is outreach and if the church are a loving family can normally, reasonably expect to see growth. Indeed, the priority for us is to ensure that we don’t put constraints in the way of growth. It’s also our responsibility to ensure that there is the right kind of growth. You see, if a healthy gospel church doesn’t grow, something will grow there just as in my garden if I don’t encourage the growth of flowers, fruit trees and vegetables then the weeds take over. So, we work hard at discipleship and correct teaching to ensure the growth is healthy as people grow in their love and knowledge of Christ.

The second parable shows God’s kingdom growing from small beginnings. This is what has happened with the church through history.  This doesn’t mean there will be political success or even visible strength but it does remind us that God is sovereign, that Christ is building his church.  It is good to remember that we are part of this bigger picture, the whole family of God that wraps around the world and stretches backwards and forwards through the generations.

Growth then is both about spiritual growth as God’s Word takes root in our lives and physical growth as it takes root in communities and more and more people put their faith in Jesus. So, we should both want to enjoy seeing the transforming work of the Gospel in our own hearts and desire to play our part in telling others about Jesus so that they become part of the great harvest.

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