Mark 4:26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain– first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” 30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
Sometimes growth is hard to see. When the grandparents haven’t seen your children for almost a year, they so often comment, “My, how your children have grown!” When you have been looking at them every day, you hardly notice the difference… until you have them stand against that closet door where you mark their height each year. Then you see that, indeed, each one is one or two inches taller than last time you measured.
The growth of God’s Kingdom is also hard to see. Our churches grow slowly. Visitors don’t come forward the first Sunday they attend and join. It’s a long process through classes. Even when they do join, faith is a matter of the heart, and we can’t actually see what’s going on inside. The same is true of our longtime members. Faith produces its fruits, but it is hard to gauge how much growth in faith has taken place in any individual at any given point in time.
Still, Jesus promises that his Kingdom grows. Faith still comes from hearing the message. His word does not return to him empty, but accomplishes what he desires and achieves the purpose for which he sent it. Even when the Church is experiencing its darkest days, and it seems as though the Kingdom may be on the brink of extinction, God’s Kingdom is growing. It always gets bigger. It never gets smaller, ever.
To understand the real size of God’s Kingdom, we must remember that every child of God who has received the big promotion, and has been transferred from earth to heaven, hasn’t been taken from the Kingdom. They have been made permanent members. The ranks of heaven keep swelling. That is all that they do. No child of God who ever makes it to heaven ever finds his way back out again. God’s Kingdom grows.
To understand the real size of God’s Kingdom, we must remember that the Kingdom isn’t limited to our little local congregation, or our little denomination, our little nation. We don’t see the explosive growth of God’s Kingdom taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, or Latin America. It is estimated that by 2050 only one Christian in five will be a non-Latino white. God’s Kingdom grows.
We are not alone. Nor are our numbers dwindling, though they may be moving. We may not be able to see it, but we believe in the incessant growth of God’s kingdom until Jesus comes.