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Secrets of the Mustard Seed
 
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SECRETS OF THE MUSTARD SEED

SECRETS OF THE MUSTARD SEED
The Way of Love
(Here we see the number one command among the teachings of Jesus.)

While the Beatles were doing a little soul searching in India, John Lennon insisted on going up in a helicopter ride with the Maharishi, hoping that, somehow, while airborn, the guru would let him in on the secret: the meaning of life. The man just commented on the scenery.  It was nothing remotely like the teachings of Jesus.

Cecil Adams made quite a name for himself as "the world's smartest human being" who provided quite a service in his nationally syndicated column: "All major mysteries of the cosmos succinctly explained." But when people wrote in for “The Straight Dope” they could only get answers to questions like, “Do turkeys really drown when they look up during rainstorms? And, “Do you get better gas mileage with the air conditioner on or with the windows open?” When it came to, “How can I be happy?” Cecil was a bit short on advice.

Pierre Gassendi had quite a lot to say during his life as a professional philosopher. So when loved ones huddled around his deathbed they were hoping for some final revelation. He mumbled, “I was born without knowing why; I am dying without knowing why.”

Great words of advice don’t fall on us that easily. When we want something more than, “Always eat your spinach,” or “Do one thing at a time,” things get pretty fuzzy. That’s why people go to extraordinary lengths to find something they can hang on to.

Americans on a “spiritual adventure” tour are flown half-way around the world to Egypt so they can descend through narrow, torch-lit passageways under the 2.3 million granite blocks of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Arriving at the King’s Chamber, they lie one by one in the bare sarcophagus and listen intently in the heavy silence for some echo of ancient insight that might enlighten their souls.

After such travels the typical sentiment is: I came seeking wisdom and all I got was this t-shirt. The mystery remains.

Something quite different happens when we get into the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. If you want to know what it's all about, this document tells you in plain language. It doesn't play coy. It doesn't wrap it in a riddle.
Jesus gives us life in a nutshell. His principle word of wisdom came in response to a question posed by his religious rivals, the Pharisees: What is the greatest commandment? These people had an extraordinary amount of advice to give people about how to live. Their tradition multiplied divine precepts into countless laws about the details. Jesus, however, condensed his advice into one single verb: love.  That's at the heart of all the teachings of Jesus.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Developing a full life is about developing love. Jesus’ great summing of the law expands on that verb. He was saying, in effect, when it comes to knowing God, we don't get it until we give it up. Casual gestures made toward his extravagant grace only immunize us to its potency. God asks us to respond in kind. Not half-heartedly. Not absent-mindedly. But soul-ed out. So love on your tiptoes, taking in your breath, like you’ve seen the Grand Canyon for the first time and awe makes you tumble into something so much vaster than yourself.

Jesus was also saying, when it comes to relationships, we don't grow until we give it up. Extending token bits of charity to our neighbors only keeps them at a safe distance. God asks us to reach out to people as if we were trying to find ourselves in them, as if their well-being were our own.

Love is the queen of New Testament virtues. The teachings of Jesus always spotlighted it: "This is my command: Love each other." John celebrated it: "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light." Paul crowned it again: "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Love is what people need to find up in a helicopter with a guru or at the bottom of a pyramid. Love transforms everything. Without love nothing really changes, our best efforts are just clanging cymbals.
Without love we try to fill holes. With love we overflow.

Without love we put up a good front. With love we have faces.
Without love we hoard approval. With love we share delight.
Without love we manipulate. With love we ask.
Without love we claw to the top. With love we rule from the bottom.
Without love we manufacture more religion. With love we respond with more faith.
Without love we throw stones from a glass house. With love we build on a solid rock.

Love is the best advice you'll ever get. But love, of course, is only a word. Sometimes circumstances drain it of content. Sometimes betrayals reduce it to four letters.

That's why Jesus and his Apostles have a lot to say about the Way of Love. Some of us may feel a bit out of the loop when it comes to loving in a healthy way. The New Testament shows us how to get in. It shows us how to cultivate this essential seed of life. It shows us how it can blossom into a tree bearing all kinds of fruit. It shows us how we can nourish ourselves and others with it. And it does this by turning words of advice into life-changing promises.

If you look at the New Testament carefully, you will discover ten things which Jesus and the apostles urge us to do the most. These admonitions stand out when you simply zero in on the words they used most frequently. They stand out when you look for phrases that give special emphasis to a precept—do this more and more; do this as opposed to something else. They stand out when you look at the passages in which New Testament writers make their most passionate appeals. 

By using these three criteria I’ve come up with the New Testament’s top ten words of advice, the essence of the teachings of Jesus. They are essentially the New Testament’s Ten Commandments. The Old Testament Ten Commandments are prohibitions. They serve as moral boundaries, showing us where we don't want to go. And that's important. But even more important are principles that show us where we do want to go. The New Ten Commandments show us how rich life can be inside those boundaries.
These are simple, basic commands which show us how to fulfill the essential law of love. But so much life, so much wisdom, is packed into those phrases; they are the core of the teachings of Jesus. Hidden away inside them we can find Mustard Seed Secrets, promises that can dramatically improve the quality of our lives. They are small steps we can take that yield the biggest results.

Jesus liked to describe his kingdom as a tiny mustard seed which grows into a wide, shady
tree. In that striking picture he spotlights the kingdom of heaven as a living thing which greatly
expands our lives. It can turn something small and insignificant into something bountiful and
glorious.

These Mustard Seed Secrets show us exactly how the kingdom works that way, how the Way of Love works that way. The power of the mustard seed lies in these New Testament words of wisdom. I invite you to follow these teachings of Jesus, step-by-step, into the abundant life which the Master promised. 

REFERENCES
Greatest commandment Matt. 22:37-40
My command John 15:17
lives in the light 1 John 2:10
Entire law Gal. 5:214
Kingdom as a Mustard Seed Matt. 13:31; Mark 4:31; Luke 13:19
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