I saw an interesting movie this past week: Lucy. The story is based on the scientific premise that we as human beings only use 10% of our brain. It then goes on to hypothesize on what we would become if we began to use 20%. 30%. 50%. 100% of our brain. In movie world, this is all played out by a woman – I won’t spoil it for you – a woman who begins to use more and more of her brain’s power. The things she is eventually able to do are astounding, not to mention a lot of shoot ‘em ups. It’s over simplified and does the movie no justice, but summed up the movie asked the questions, “What is our potential? What can we become?”
The first of the five parables Jesus tells us in our Gospel reading is making a statement, but it is also asking those same questions: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed… the smallest of seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest.” What is the potential of the Kingdom of Heaven? What can we as individuals, even though small and insignificant in the larger scheme of things, become as children of God?
I could give you the example of a child born in a manger in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but some might argue that this is a poor example, given that He was the Son of God. But what about those twelve fellas that followed him around for three years? They were fishermen and tax collectors, but were they able to affect much change in the world? What about a little nun in a blue and white habit walking the streets of Calcutta? Was she able to bring about a portion of the Kingdom of Heaven? Yes, those are a few of the superstars of the faith, but let me ask you this: does a person who feeds one hungry child do any less for the Kingdom than they did?
We only expect to find the kingdom in cathedrals and mega-churches, in professional choirs and pipe organs, and those persons recognized worldwide for their contributions, but the parable of the mustard seed suggest that the real kingdom-power is to be found in the most humble of places and in the most humble of people.
Emil Bruner, a German theologian, writes, “the kingdom’s form is perpetually little, always seed-sized, divinely designed to be a treasure in earthen, not golden, vessels so that the exceeding greatness of the gospel’s power might always be God’s, not human beings.” The greatness of God is revealed in His ability to take the smallest of instruments and do the greatest of works. A still small voice. A little child. A few fish and a couple of loaves of bread. Three nails. That still small voice spoke all of creation into being. That little child was the savior of the world. A few fish and couple of loaves of bread fed thousands. Three nails held the sins of the world to the Cross.
So, what is your potential? What is it that God desires for you to become? What great things has the Lord prepared for you to do? Later in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells the disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I don’t know what type of power we would have if, like Lucy, we were able to use 100% of our brains, but I do know this: you are a mustard seed and through the power of God, you are able to do great things. What’s stopping you?