We are living in a world that is hostile to God and His Word. It says that you can be great and do big things with your own strength, and you don’t need God. People value and uphold the ‘strong,’ ‘big,’ and ‘fast.’ The world says that if you are not strong you will be defeated, if you are not big you are insignificant, and if you are not fast you will be left behind. If you want to be successful, then words like ‘weak,’ ‘small,’ or ‘slow’ shouldn’t be in your vocabulary.
I often hear church leaders talking about their big plans, organizing big revival crusades, and implementing big projects to impact their nation. These plans require big budgets and manpower that only a few big churches have available. The desire to be effective for the Lord in a big way is a great thing, but the problem is they seem to think the way the world thinks. They look down on small actions and are in danger of believing a lie that says, “Bigger is better.”
I found it’s quite funny that whenever the world says something, the Bible says the opposite. Whatever the world despises, the Bible upholds. Actually, the Bible implies “smaller is better” and the beauty is that it will eventually lead to big things.
In Mark 4:26-32, Jesus used two parables of the mustard seeds to talk about His Kingdom. As He described it, the mustard seed is the smallest of all the seeds, but when sown in the ground it grows and becomes a big plant. The harvest surely comes because there is power in a small seed.
Pastor Tyler Johnson from Redemption Church gave an illustration in one of his sermons about the seed. He said something like, “If you crush the seed against a brick wall, the seed would break. But if you plant that seed next to the wall and after a few years it becomes a tree, its root grows and spreads out and it starts to crack the wall and one day the wall will fall.” He continued with a historical example of the Roman Empire to make this point clearer: “If the Apostles told the Emperor that his empire will become a Christian nation, I would imagine the question he would ask back to the Apostles with a mocking voice, ‘So you think that 120 of you can bring down my whole empire? Are you out of your mind?’ Yet this happened. During the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), Christianity began to become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire.
In the TCT program, we encourage churches to do small Acts of Love, or Mustard Seed Actions, to show God’s love to their communities and to be obedient to Him. Simple actions like collecting garbage, fixing the roof for a widow, cleaning a ditch, or digging a latrine. They don’t require money, everyone can participate, including non-believers, and yet they bring changes to the community.
In one community, the first time people saw the church collecting garbage around the community, they asked what the church had done wrong to be punished by the government. They were surprised to find out that the church wanted to show God’s love to the community, because they has always been told that the church is bad. Their attitude toward the church started to change when they continued to see how the church also cared for other things like education for children, hygiene practices, marriage and family. Now the church is no longer seen as manipulative but genuinely loving. They are no longer seen as only spiritually-focused, but as caring for the whole person. And these actions also change the way the church members see themselves. They are now the givers instead of receivers. They are the head, not the tail. Through these Acts of Love, God has moved many communities out of poverty to the point that the national government noticed and sent a research team to investigate.
What’s wrong with doing ‘big?’ In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong. But it has potential to lead us to dishonor God by taking credit for ourselves. You remember well the story of God using Gideon to save Israel (Judges 6:11-7:25). After God showed them His signs that He would give the Midianites into their hand, Gideon and his men were ready for battle. But God said to him, “The people with you are too many,” and He instructed ways to shrink the army size from 22,000 to 300. Wait, God! Isn’t bigger better in this situation? It’s war! Interestingly, the reason He gave is, “Lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” By shrinking their army, God made sure that Israel knew it was His power to bring victory and the glory belonged to Him. Certainly, bigger is not necessarily better!
Why do Mustard Seed Actions? It’s the principle of the Kingdom of God. You don’t have to be ‘big’ to be used by God because the power of God is revealed in smallness and, in the end, He receives all the glory.