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Session 3: From Telescope to Microscope

 
It is easy to think of the Kingdom coming 'As in heaven' in big dimensions, of cosmic changes and the overthrow of human empires and ungodly power.  And when we think in those terms we need a telescope to wonder at the purposes of God on the largest possible scale.  Yet Jesus describes his Kingdom in many ways which are different from the cosmic changes which will happen when Jesus returns for a second time, or the Parousia as it is often called.  God’s kingdom broke in, through the weakness and vulnerability of a human being and is likened to every day things like lost sheep, mustard seeds, yeast, bread, water and light.
 
Is it easier for you to think of God’s Kingdom coming 'As in heaven' in powerful and dramatic ways rather than in routine and everyday ways?  Why is that?

Think about and note where you have seen God working by his Holy Spirit during the past week.  The small acts of kindness, the answers to prayer, the words said or anything else that come to mind.
 
How often do we fail to see God at work in the routine of our lives?

 
Read Matthew 13:31-35 about Mustard seed and yeast in the NIV and The Message
Consider this passage and think about what surprises you and what you learn that is new.
 

Jesus compares the Kingdom of heaven with the smallest, everyday items of a mustard seed and yeast; things that can be overlooked or thrown away by accident.  He does not compare the Kingdom of Heaven with the Roman Empire, the military armies of Caesar or the significant human power of the current rulers.  God’s Kingdom is so completely different that any comparison is unhelpful and misleading.

  • This parable tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven starts in the smallest way but has huge potential – how does the life of Christ reflect this?
  • Jesus does not want to the Kingdom of Heaven to be compared with the Kingdoms of this world whether those are political, corporate or economic – why is that?
  • Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed; how might we prepare the ground appropriately for the seed?  What is our role as disciples of Jesus in seeing God’s Kingdom come 'as in heaven' as suggested by these parables?  Psalm 105:4.
  • The yeast transforms all the flour and makes it something delicious and sustaining and yet it is miniscule in comparison with the huge amount of flour.  Can you think of examples of how a little of God’s presence transforms everything?  In what ways can you take the yeast of the Kingdom into the situations where God has placed you?

 


There are three shocks in these parables for the people of Jesus’ day: the Kingdom of Heaven begins small, the Kingdom of Heaven is extravagant in its outcomes and the Kingdom of Heaven is hidden for many.
  • Do we acknowledge that in many ways we are impressed with things that are on a big scale and does the fact that the Kingdom of Heaven may be small and seemingly insignificant cause us to be discouraged?  Would we prefer great gatherings of thousands, large buildings and corporate Christian organisations with power and influence rather than the marginal role many Christians have today?
  • Despite being small, the mustard seed grows to a huge tree and the yeast transforms enough flour to feed 150 people.  We can see in the Feeding of the 5000 and in water turned into wine how the Kingdom involves generous and extravagant outcomes.  Do we live with this Kingdom perspective – living generously and extravagantly?  How do we do this as communities of God?
  • The Kingdom is growing but it is hidden, just as the influence of the yeast is hidden – how might this impact our mission and evangelism?
 

Chamblin“Beware lest the hiddenness of the Kingdom of heaven blind you to its present reality.”  What does this thought mean for disciples of Jesus today?
 

 

Zechariah 4:10 'Do not despise the day of small things' (New Living Translation). 'Do not despise the day of small beginnings' (The Living Bible).

The small things were the unpromising and limited scale beginnings of the Temple Haggai 2:3.  Small as they may seem, they are the start of God’s work and a pledge of God’s promise of completion.  The people of Zechariah’s day were not to be doubtful of the future; they were not to look down on its apparent smallness, for God sees these small beginnings and regards them with favour and is blessing and leading them forward to completion.

  • What might the principle of Zechariah 4:10 say to our situations today?
  • Where might we be tempted to be embarrassed by the smallness of what we do or the impact we have?
  • How might we see things differently through the lens of God’s Kingdom coming in the small things?


Responding to God – the Holy Spirit at work in the everyday and routine

  • In what ways might you see God more clearly at work in the routine?
  • How might God want to use you in seemingly small acts of his Kingdom love, grace, truth or extravagance?
  • Any other actions which you might take as a result of reflecting on Matthew 13:31-35 or Zechariah 4:10?


A Prayer

Lord we humbly confess our failure to see you in so many of the ordinary things of life.  Thank you that your Holy Spirit is at work through loving and wise words of comfort and insight, small acts of generosity and through people seeking justice and peace.  We pray that our lives might reflect your Kingdom coming 'As in heaven' – may we individually reflect your holy love and joy and may our communities of faith echo with the sound of heaven as we allow the hidden and unseen presence of the Kingdom to grow amongst us.   Amen.



 
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God's Kingdom is always about transforming death to life, darkness to light, ashes to beauty
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Seeing God in the ordinary things of life
Worship is about honouring and submitting to God
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