Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

In Celebration of the Mustard Seeds

by Glen Stassen

My one piece of wisdom that regularly lifts me out of depression is: "Thank God for the little breakthroughs."

I get in despair over the domination of huge and growing concentrations of money in the hands of a few, many of whom are using their economic power to squash the unions and dominate the media, the politicians, the trade policies, the military spending, the selection of Supreme Court nominees, and even the churches and synagogues. And I get depressed over how little I can produce that offers the right help.

Melanie Klein says the more resentment grows, the less room is left for gratitude, and the more gratitude grows, the less impetus toward resentment. I believe it. I believe it! I've experienced it.

One day at the summer conference of the Baptist Peace Fellowship, Joyce Hollyday's Bible study hit me in the heart -- disclosing my wrongness. I spent the afternoon meditating, wrote down a change-decision, and prayed that my heart would be turned from resentment. That evening, during open mic time, my students gave me a crazy, bodacious, exaggerated, hilarious present. My heart turned from resentment to gratitude. And it has lasted.

Maybe this sounds schmaltzy. I engage in many struggles for peace, justice, and the preservation of creation. And now and then a gift, a small breakthrough, a bit of healing of the injustice, does happen. Life is thanking God for the little breakthroughs.

I say: "Maybe I don't bring a lot, but I'm doing the best I can with what I've got."

We don't have the reign of God in its glory, for sure. But I say with the realistic Jewish prophet, Jesus, "Thank God for the mustard seeds."

Glen Harold Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Living the Sermon on the Mount: Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance (Jossey-Bass, 2006).

His articles in Tikkun include "Dear Senator Clinton," January/February 2008; and "Senator Obama: Add "Healing" to Your Message," September/October 2008.

Source Citation: Stassen, Glen. 2011. In Celebration of the Mustard Seeds. Tikkun 26(1): 70

tags: Christianity  
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