seeds in the ground and expect to see fruit the next morning, right after breakfast. You can try explaining that you have to wait for the first little bitty shoot to come out of the ground, and wait a lot more for the mature plant, but generally, our little ones don't get it. Sometimes, neither do we!
The kingdom of God, which is already here, also has aspects that take awhile to appear. Jesus came and announced that the kingdom is "at hand" and "here" but he also described it in ways that look much more long-term. To illustrate that for us, he gave the parable of the mustard seed in Mark 4:30-32. The mustard seed is tiny, and the finished plant is huge by comparison. In between is -- guess what -- a season of growth!
All of us have three aspects to our own spiritual development: the personal level, in our own relationship with the Lord; the community or congregation level, where we interact with others in our spiritual family; and outside our circles, where Jesus invites us into his mission of making the Father's love known. And wouldn't you know it, each one of these takes time to develop fully.
What does that look like? We start out with faith and love toward the Lord in tiny amounts, and gradually those grow. We start out by realizing Jesus is enabling us to love others instead of using self-protection and hiding, and gradually we grow to love others more. We begin with not wanting to join Jesus in his mission because it sounds risky or difficult, and we gradually progress to realizing that every part of life is sacred and every encounter can be a way to share God's love with someone.
Remember, growth takes time. Because of that,
- We must be patient with ourselves
- And patient with others.
- In all three areas of our spiritual maturing
But sooner or later, the growth occurs, and we give God praise that it did.