This article is part of a series from Colin Smith, the author of Momentum: Pursuing God’s Blessings Through The Beatitudes, which will be available to order in December 2016 at lifeway.com/momentumstudy.
To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God.” —Mark 4:11
The kingdom of God is simply the rule or the reign of God. God reigns in heaven and on earth, and even over hell. He is sovereign. That means He reigns everywhere. But His rule does not look the same everywhere:
- In heaven: God’s rule is recognized—that is why heaven is filled with His blessing.
- In hell: God’s rule is resisted—that is why hell is under His judgment.
- On earth: God’s rule is partly recognized and partly resisted—that is why we see a mixture of God’s blessing and His judgment.
So when we pray, Your kingdom come, we are asking God to make this world more like heaven than hell. And the way that happens is people submit to God’s rule in their lives, like the angels do: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
When Jesus began His ministry, He said, “The kingdom of God is near” (Mark 1:15). The ministry of Jesus brought a taste of heaven on earth: sickness was healed. Demons were cast out. Sins were forgiven. Ordinary people followed Jesus. Troubled people were set free.
But then something else happened—Jesus’ ministry was also rejected. The Pharisees and Herodians plotted to kill Jesus. A delegation of scholars said Jesus was in league with the devil!
If the king is rejected, what hope is there for the kingdom? How can we know the blessing of Christ’s rule in this Christ-rejecting world?
Jesus shares the secret: “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you” (Mark 4:11). And Jesus reveals the secret of the kingdom in a simple story:
- A sower goes out sowing seed.
- The seed falls on different kinds of ground.
- The seed on bad ground produces nothing of lasting value.
- The seed on good ground produces a marvelous harvest.
Jesus tells this story (or parable) to explain to the disciples how the kingdom comes in a world that rejects the king. The secret of the kingdom is that Christ will bring all the blessings of His rule into the lives of men and women by means of God’s Word.
It’s important to know that God’s Word is living seed. The Word of God is much more than information—it has life-giving power. That’s why Peter says to Christian believers, “You have been born again though the living and enduring Word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).
Any seed will produce a crop if it is planted in the right conditions. But different seeds will produce a different harvest. The seed that we sow will determine the crop that we get. So we must choose our seed carefully.
The first question you need to ask yourself as a small group leader who is serving the Lord is: What kind of harvest am I hoping to see? When we are clear about the harvest we are looking for, then we will be able to select the right kind of seed.
What is the harvest? Is it a bigger group? Is it connecting with one another? Is it staying together for the long haul? Many different kinds of seed will produce these results!
But Jesus is telling us that if we seek a harvest of people living under the blessing of God’s rule, there is only one seed that produces this crop: the Word of God.
This seed has produced the same harvest in every culture and in every generation. It will produce godly fruit in your life and in the lives of your children, neighbors, friends, and small group.
You can have absolute confidence in the power of this seed to produce a great harvest today. No other seed will produce this harvest.
Sowing this seed is at the core of every Christian ministry and every Christian small group, because it produces the crop Christ is looking for—people whose lives are directed to the rule and reign of God.
Colin Smith (MPhil, London School of Theology) is Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and his ministry extends through his radio program Unlocking the Bible. He is also committed to mentoring next-generation pastors, missionaries, and church-planters through The Orchard Network. Colin and his wife, Karen, have two married sons and four grand-daughters.