Commonplace and Ordinary
He (Jesus) told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.” [Matthew 13:31-32 CEB]
How did Jesus announce the coming of the Kingdom of God? Smoke started spewing from the ground, angels on white horses darted across the heavens? Not at all. He simply stated in His very first sermon, a short, succinct message straight to the point: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.” That was it.
But what was this kingdom of God? Where was it? Where were the legions of armored warriors on horseback ready to smite the enemy? Jesus picked up a handful of mustard seeds and said, “The kingdom is like a mustard seed ..." Then He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
The Kingdom of God is simply wherever and whenever God’s rule is supreme. It is wherever love of God is foremost, His mercy and compassion. Where perfect justice exists. It is wherever people take a stand against the things that rule society—the callousness, the insensitivity, the hate, the spitefulness, the immorality, the materialism. It is also wherever people humble themselves to let God reign in their lives, so that this world can be what God created this world to be—a blessing. The kingdom is not yet complete, but we can see pockets of it all around us.
To make His point about the kingdom, Jesus used ordinary things, commonplace items to try to describe this new Kingdom. It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, yet it can grow to be the largest of garden plants. Not by our own doing, but through the work of God. It is like the yeast that a cook works through the dough. You cannot physically see it after it has been mixed in, but it is blended all through it.
God uses the simple, everyday, ordinary items: mustard seeds, leaven, bread, wine—things sitting around us that we may not even take notice of, things we may even take for granted.
But God uses them in powerful ways to achieve His purposes. Bread and wine are no longer just bread and wine, but a compelling reminder of the power of Christ’s sacrifice for us, to wash away our sins.
We can think of ordinary and common people in our own lives who inspired and touched us. Names of people who only we may know. None of them were celebrities. More often than not, the saints are the ones walking among us, the ordinary. They are the people we see every day and mostly we take for granted until they are gone. They are people who were not especially gifted, yet are extraordinary because they humbled themselves to God. They let God use them so God’s powerful love and amazing grace could move mountains.
Where is the Kingdom of God? Most likely it can be found among the commonplace and ordinary. That’s where we will find it.