The Gospel Yeast

Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”  Luke 13:20-21

                 This is one of the few times in Scripture where yeast is not compared to sin. Most often it is used to speak of the way sin changes the state of a person’s heart. But in this case, that change is a positive one. The Gospel (the kingdom of God) actually alters the very nature of human development.

                 I came to know Christ in college. To many around me, the changes that took place in my life were probably considered changes that came with maturity and human development, but I knew different. There was a significant difference between the “BC” person and who I became.

                 Though my life as sheltered and stable, I grew up with no real sense of personal value. Before I came to Christ, I had no understanding of why I existed. I was scared to try new things because I feared ridicule or that I would fail and people would think poorly of me. I’m sure it was not intentionally communicated, but I believed my personal worth was a function of some unique contribution that I knew was not in me. Had I embraced an Eastern mystical religion in those days, it would have fit my don’t-rock-the-boat demeanor. I wasn’t passionate about anything so that I would avoid being criticized.

                 But Christ changed that. His presence in my life began to permeate everything I was and did. That “small” decision to trust Him with my life suddenly impacted the whole of my life, just like the yeast did to the dough in Jesus’ illustration. I recognized the Bible as the source of Truth; I saw Jesus as the Ruler over the universe; I may not have had clear vocational direction, but I knew it was somehow connected to my relationship with Him. All the pieces of my life that had previously seemed so fragmented, now were brought into order by His presence, like a magnet does to iron filings.

                 But it makes me wonder about some of the people near me. Has their internal orientation changed because of their decision to trust Christ? (Has the Gospel yeast permeated their lives?) Rather, have they viewed Christianity as “fire insurance,” simply to keep them from hell? When small children (even my own) trust Christ, does the Gospel yeast so alter their lives that they will be true to it in the turbulent adolescent years and beyond? Certainly, I can never peer into the hearts of these near me, but He does expect me to inspect the “fruit” or see if “the dough has risen.”

Unwise Men from the East

You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans (Is. 2:6).

As if God needed anything else to bring judgment, Isaiah identifies Eastern mysticism as one of the reasons for it. Since the 1960s America also has been filled with the influences of Eastern religions, some of which have come through the use of illegal drugs.  The series of movies known as “Star Wars” have introduced us here in the West to the Eastern idea that there are two equal “forces” at work in this world – one for good and one for evil. Yoga has become so common an exercise that many churches today sponsor classes, not to mention the Young Men’s CHRISTIAN Association (YMCA). This, despite the fact that it originated from and is an integral part of Hinduism. Some view the martial arts as merely a form of exercise, but it is clear that many others see a relationship between them and Eastern thought.

But these ideas stand opposed to the worship of the Triune God. People who practice the various Eastern religions in most cases set up shrines in their homes with gods of wood and stone, directly violating the commands to make no graven image and to have no other god but the Lord. The forces of good and evil are not equal in Christian thought – the Triune God is supreme and sovereign while the devil must seek His permission to afflict us (see Job 1:6). In addition, it is clear that the “Force” of Star Wars is just something to be used or manipulated while Christians are called to serve their God, not manipulate Him for their own ends.

Just as Eastern superstitions contributed to the judgment that God brought upon His people in ancient times, so it will contribute to judgment in our day as well. We in the West have drifted from the worship of the Triune God as revealed in our Scriptures and have set every other religious system on an equal footing. It is no wonder that the Lord who declared, “I am, and there is no other” (Is. 45:5) would be offended that we have entertained, and even set as equal, what is beneath Him. Truly we are worshiping “the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).

The call that Isaiah issued is the same for us – repentance. Nothing else will save us. The one He esteems is the one who is “humble, contrite and trembles at His Word” (66:2).