Last weekend when I preached at Christ Fellowship, I was so encouraged to see the video below during the announcements. My heart was warmed because it was a small and practical picture of a passage that helped shape our local mission strategy.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches. (Matt. 13:31-32)
Jesus told His disciples that His kingdom would have a small start, just as a mustard seed starts small. From a human perspective, His arrival on this earth was a minor and unnoticed event to the vast majority of humanity (stable in Bethlehem rather than palace in Rome coupled with unlearned ordinary disciples). But His kingdom did not and will not stay small. What Jesus declared would happen is being fulfilled. His kingdom is now a large plant, a growing tree. But the parable does not end with a growing kingdom…
Jesus also told His disciples that “the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.” That phrase took the disciples back to several Old Testament passages describing earthly kingdoms that were so powerful and fruitful that even people outside of those kingdoms benefited. The disciples knew the story of the Assyrian kingdom, a kingdom that at one time was so strong that other nations were impacted and influenced by the Assyrians—a kingdom where “all the birds of the sky nested in its branches” (Ezek. 31:6).
The disciples also knew the story of the Babylonian kingdom. In Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a tree that was strong enough and large enough for people scattered throughout the world to see. Tons of fruit hung on the tree, enough for everyone to eat, and “the birds of the air lived in its branches” (Dan. 4:12). Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret his dream. Daniel told the king of Babylon, “You are that tree.” Daniel was essentially telling Nebuchadnezzar, “Your kingdom, the Babylonian kingdom, is so fruitful, so influential, that others are impacted by your influence. Nations are finding comfort, security, and food in the tree that is your kingdom.”
The vision Jesus articulated to His disciples was that the kingdom of God will be such an influential and powerful movement in the culture that those outside the kingdom of God will benefit from its influence. People will rest and receive shelter in its branches. For this reason, the community in which a church resides should benefit from her presence.
We desire Miami to benefit from our church’s existence. Because Christ tangibly served us, we want to tangibly serve our community. Because of the incarnation, we are motivated to step into the culture around us with the good news of Jesus.
Also funny in the video is how uncomfortable CF pastors are in suits.