He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
(Matthew 13:33 ESV)
We are currently reading seven parables from Jesus. In all of them Jesus related the common experiences of His listeners to the kingdom of heaven. In today’s parable Jesus uses the every-day task of making bread.
Leaven, or yeast, is used to make dough rise. Whenever a woman would bake a loaf of bread she would save a piece of dough from the previous batch just before it was baked. This piece would have contained leaven. When mixing the next batch of dough she would place the saved piece inside the new batch so that it would ferment the new batch and make it rise. Then the process would be repeated. The fact that she hid the piece of leavened dough implies that she kneaded it all the way into the new batch so that it was all mixed into the dough.
Just like the leavened dough had to be deeply mixed into the new batch of dough, so too must Christians be mixed into the world. When we are the world rises up – it becomes a better place. Like leaven makes dough rise when it is mixed into it, God’s children raise the world up by being a part of it.
Once in a while we hear about someone wanting to create a Christian city or state. Such a place would supposedly be a better place to live. Maybe so. Maybe not. But in any case, such an arrangement is unbiblical. God does not want His children to be separate from the world. He specifically sends us into the world, but warns us against becoming like the world [John 17:14-16, 18; Romans 12:2].
The Amish separate themselves from society. They do not want to be ‘contaminated’ by the world. But in so doing they have become a cultural oddity and have no impact for Christ on the lost world around them.
Believers cannot affect the world if we are separated from it. We must be in the world. We are to be teachers. We are to be athletes. We are to be scientists. We are to permeate society. But we are not to become like society.
There is certainly no doubt that the world’s living conditions have improved immeasurably since Jesus walked the earth. This is 100% attributable to Him and His followers.
As a result of Jesus’ teachings and example, living conditions on this earth, while still far from Eden-esque because of our sin, are infinitely better than what would be otherwise. This is easily verified by looking at the non-Christian parts of our world. They live in poverty. The rights of women and children are non-existent. They have governments that demand to be served by the populace rather than serving. Without the Jesus the world is a big mess.
Jesus ushered in a completely new way of thinking about people. He treated everyone with dignity because each and every one of us was created in the image of God. This makes the world a better place.
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