The Fast Pace of Slow Growth
When I started counseling I thought the big questions I would be helping people answer were ones like, “Why I am here?” or “Where am I going?” After two decades plus of counseling I have been surprised to find that instead most people are asking, “Why is it taking so long?” Not surprisingly that is the most often asked question in the Bible (“How long oh Lord?”). There are many reasons I could post to explain why I think we ask that question so much but one reason that stands out is we seem to forget what it is that pleases the Lord so much. He loves faith. God is growing our faith and this means he wants us to become more sure of him (Hebrews 11:1) and not ourselves. If we could make things happen quickly we would take credit for them. The unfolding, gradual nature of the pace of our life is so that we remember to look to and trust the Lord. This is important because as we understand the nature of the process it helps us to rest along the way.
The unfolding, gradual nature of the pace of our life is so that we remember to look to and trust the Lord.
Once, Jesus addressed the nature of Kingdom Growth when he gave the Pharisees a couple of metaphors to help them understand why they were missing the Kingdom. He said “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches.” He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like?’ It is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough” (Luke 13:18-21, NLT). Jesus gives these metaphors right after healing a woman on the Sabbath. Performing that act enraged the leaders of the synagogue. The metaphors were given to continue the process of exposing the religious leaders’ pride. Religion for them was a way to gain power and be recognized by men. Therefore, they expected the Messiah to bring more of the same and to quickly and powerfully establish His (and their) rule on earth. The fact that the Kingdom Jesus was instituting was not going to do this conflicted with the Pharisees’ goals and caused them to miss it. The metaphors Jesus gave them were an attempt to help the Pharisees understand their misguided notions. Power and control are not kingdom values so the way it grows underscores the need for humility and faith. Kingdom Growth always starts small (like a mustard seed), it grows slowly (from a seed to a large tree) and you can’t see the growth as it takes place (like yeast in bread). At any moment, as we are hoping for kingdom growth, what we actually have will seem too small.