In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus tells a parable which compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. Although it is one of the smallest seeds, it eventually grows into a tree large enough for birds to nest in its branches. One thing that we can glean from this monologue of mustard seeds is that the kingdom of heaven begins with and consists of the little things.
Our life in the kingdom doesn’t begin with great feats of godliness. Quite the opposite, it begins with the little things: setting aside 15 minutes for prayer, stopping what we’re doing to really listen to the person in front of us, forgiving that person who cut us off while driving to work this morning, etc. Many times we get caught up in the bigger and flashier parts of the Christian life like mission trips or Sunday services. However, these make up a relatively small part of our walk with God. Let’s take Sunday services as an example. Regular corporate worship and being part of a congregation are very important parts our spiritual life and development. However, if this is the only time that we live the kingdom life, the only time that we encounter God, it amounts to 1 hour a week. That, in turn, translates into about 4 hours a month or 2.16 days a year. 2.16 days a year that we spend time with God and live out the Gospel. On the flip side, it also shows how the small things add up. Spending 15 minutes a day in prayer amounts to 1.75 hours per week which is about 7 hours a month or 3.79 days a year. Compared to only going to church for an hour every week, only devoting 15 minutes a day to prayer leads to roughly 75% more time spent with God.
Now, it bears reminding that mere accumulation of hours does not a spiritual life make. The key lies in spending time with God as opposed to spending time in religious observances. However, the point at hand is that the little things in life add up to more than we often think.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote a book about what he called the “sacrament of the present moment”, that is, how we encounter and serve God from moment to moment. Perhaps that is at the core of living out the kingdom of heaven: living each moment in the kingdom. Each moment of our lives is a seed that has the potential to subtly change us. Grown from these moments, the kingdom of heaven becomes deeply rooted in our lives and our lives begin to take on the shape of the kingdom as God shapes and forms us. But it all starts with a single moment, a single seed.