Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hidden Yeast

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."
This is one of my favorite parables. I just love the image. I also love what it says about the kingdom of God.

I'm convinced, mostly because of this parable, that God doesn't intend for the whole world to become Christian. I don't think it's necessary for the salvation of the world. Instead, Christians are the yeast that leavens the whole lump.

In fact, it's probably misleading to say "Christians" here. Western civilization has gone through many centuries when nearly everyone was Christian, at least in name, but what they accomplished isn't exactly something we'd want to write to the apostles about. Everyone was Christian, but not everyone was yeast. But to expect them all to have been yeast would be a fundamental misunderstanding of what the kingdom of God is like.

St. Francis of Assisi is a great example of someone who was yeast in the world. In his own time, St. Francis was light in a dark time, and even today his spiritual heirs, and there are many, continue to make a difference.

But St. Francis is just a very visible example. Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flower. Everyday, there are Christians leavening the world in ways that go unnoticed, maybe even in ways that they themselves don't notice.

I'm sure it's no coincidence that this parable immediately follows the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew's gospel. I don't have to be St. Francis to make a difference in the world. I don't have to be the talk of the Christian world. All I have to do is be faithful.

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

I used to have a cookbook (written by, I think, hippie communards who seemed to be putting more than carob and whole-wheat flour in their brownies;-)) that used the term "yeast beasties." For some reason your post reminded me of this...Christians as yeast beasties?...;-)

Also, being a bread baker, I know that you just can't rush the yeast-infused dough; it rises when it rises, which may take two hours, or the better part of a day, or overnight. I think, as we live Christ into the world, we need to not focus on outcomes; just "get on with it."