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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bryant

Mark 4:30-34 When the Gospel is not in competition with time

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

A lot of the time the Gospel is in competition with time. It is urgent news to be sent out. Certainly Christ’s preaching was urgent. Certainly deliverance and healing were urgent. But there is a sense, here in this passage and in my work, where the Gospel is not in competition with time but is its fulfillment.

The Gospel, that overturning Word of Mercy, that thing called Christ’s Gracious Offer of Himself, is also something quietly growing in us and in our communities. Taking root through hearing, vindicated and deepened in prayer, before it bears becomes the strange things we offer, the time that we spend, the relationship we risk making.

What is it like to see the Gospel become something in a particular time and place? What is it like to see what the Gospel can do to us over time? What the Gospel can do in a particular place and time?

This Friday at open hours I saw two people playing piano together. Showing each other music. Two people from different walks of life, who only know each other because they both know me. And only both know me because a group of people prayerfully decided someone should be doing the work I’m doing and hired me for. And me doing this Friday open hours ministry only because this church prayerfully decided to start an open hours ministry. A church that was only able to put together a Friday open hours ministry because they had a church to support it, to pray for it, to discern. A church that exists because it was planted by another church, that itself was planted.

May the Lord, one day in heaven, help us untangle this great tangle of faithfulness, and let us add to the great tangle of other people's faithfulness, this garden created by the Gospel.

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