There are many images used in the gospels to describe the kingdom of God – a treasure in a field, a lost coin, yeast. My favourite is the mustard seed – a small seed that grows into a huge plant. Yet in many parts of the world, mustard is a noxious weed, something that no self respecting farmer would plant.
So the kingdom of God is like a weed? How could that possibly be?
When we think about it, the analogy does not seem so far fetched. Weeds are resilient, tenacious, ubiquitous. They emerge everywhere – not just in the garden but unexpected places like the crevice of rocks and through cracks in the concrete. No weed block keeps them out for long. We try to yank them out or poison them but in a couple of months they are back.
Just so the kingdom of God. It is constantly emerging in unexpected places. It cannot be suppressed. In the devastation of an earthquake in Nepal, strangers come from all over the world to help. In the violence and hatred in the Middle East, an Israeli woman protects a Palestinian child. In the presence of injustice, the Rosa Parks‘ emerge to show us the path to truth. Activists work for the rights of women, gays, illegal immigrants.
What is your response.
Go for a walk outside and look at the weeds in your garden (or your neighbour’s garden if you don’t have one). What are the unexpected places in which they are emerging? Now go inside and sit quietly thinking about the unexpected places in which you have caught glimpses of God’s kingdom emerging. Write these down. Each evening this week before you go to bed ask yourself – where have I caught glimpses of God’s kingdom today? Grow your list. Ask God if there is any further response you should make to grow the kingdom that is emerging.
Weeds are important in a garden. They are good indicators of soil conditions and often help improve the soil as they send down roots that grow deep loosening hard compacted soil and bringing up useful minerals from deep down. The Canadian thistle that some try so hard to eradicate, reaches down up to 20 feet for nutrients. It breaks up the soil, enriches it and makes it healthy so that other plants thrive.
Weeds make good cover crops, provide habitats for beneficial insects and prevent erosion. They provide essential food for wildlife, pollen and nectar for beneficial insects, and nutrition for livestock and humans alike. Here in the Pacific NW, blackberries grow everywhere. We want to rid of them, yet they provide a wealth of edible fruit packed full of vitamins.
The kingdom of God is like a weed, it improves the soil of the whole garden of God. It provides nutrients and food, and a protected place for all God’s creatures to dwell.
What is your response.
Sit quietly in the presence of God and think about the people in your life who irritate you, the situations that you wish would go away, the injustices you would rather ignore. Who or what are the weeds in your life or community that represent the kingdom of God? Where have you tried to yank out the kingdom of God from your life or your community because it made you uncomfortable? Make a list.
Now listen to the song below and prayerfully ask God how you should respond.