He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that
someone took and sowed in his field;
--Matthew 13:31 NRSV
I’m pretty sure my neighbors are mad at me. My front yard currently looks like I have chosen to grow a field of dandelions. I’m not talking about a few of them but rather my whole yard is overrun by them. I just know my neighbors are shaking their heads at the disreputable state of my yard, and I have to admit it looks rather bad, but I really don’t care enough to do much about it. I think lawn care is the biggest scam out there.
I grew up under the demanding eye of my father when it comes to lawn care. He grew up a poor cotton farmer in West Texas, so I always felt his perfect lawns were somehow a reaction to trying to grow cotton in the unforgiving soil of Fisher County, Texas. Our lawns were always the envy of the neighborhood. When I became big enough to mow the lawn, my dad would check it over as if he were the groundskeeper of a PGA golf course. If I so much as missed a blade of grass, then I was sure to hear about it. My dad is a pretty easy going guy, but not when it comes to lawn care.
My feeling about lawns is that it was shared delusion of the post-war suburbs of the 1950’s. The makers of lawn mowers, hedge clippers and fertilizer knew a good market when they saw one and suckered everyone into making their front yards look like botanical gardens. The amount of chemicals my neighbors spray on their yards can’t be a good thing for the planet, and looking at nearby creeks around my house shows that the runoff of those chemicals and fertilizer is killing life all around my neighborhood. I’d rather save the water and the money spent on chemicals and let my yard turn back into prairie. That brings me back to the dandelions and the inevitable stern letter I’m going to get from the neighborhood association.
If there’s anything good to come out of my sorry-looking front yard, it’s that I’m understanding better how Jesus described the Kingdom of God. He said it’s like somebody sowed mustard seeds in a person’s field. The small seeds produced mustard plants that ended up taking over the entire field. I’ve never really looked closely at a mustard plant, but I’m here to tell you that if it’s anything like a dandelion then it spreads fast and shows no mercy. It sneakily spreads until that’s all there is to see. That’s a heck of a way to describe God’s activity in the world.
Despite our well-ordered plans that make us think we really are in control of things, reality keeps forcing us to admit we are not gods. The good news is that God’s plans end up being better than our own. God keeps working in ways we may not realize until we look out one day and see that God’s love shows up in the most unlikely places. God is sneakily sowing love, grace, blessing and joy that can’t be stopped by our misguided attempts to find these things in materialistic junk that can never provide them. Even when we blow it, God’s seeds keep sprouting and releasing the new life God desires. When we admit the emptiness of doing things in self-serving ways, we discover God has been busy preparing for us a world of beauty and wonder to enjoy.
In the same way I woke up one morning to a front yard full of dandelions, we have moments of clarity which reveal the never-ending majesty of God’s presence in our world. Sort of like a weed, God defies our best efforts to diminish and destroy what God is up to. Despite all the bad news we take in non-stop in this internet age, Jesus declares that all appearances to the contrary God’s love is not only still spreading but it will inevitably take over everything.
I wonder if my neighbors will believe that I let my front yard go to seed in order to teach my church about the Kingdom of God?
Nah, I’m pretty sure they won’t buy it.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851