Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are You Yeasty?

"He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." Matthew 13:33

Have you ever made bread from scratch? I do it all the time, and every time I make a new batch of bread, I marvel at the simplicity of it. Simply flour, salt, water and yeast are needed to make a great loaf of bread. There is usually a large amount of flour, and just a touch of yeast, because yeast grows and expands throughout the bread process. When you knead your dough, you're giving it the love it needs to expand- essentially, you're giving it a massage, your twisting and stretching and pulling, making it so that the dough will expand and take in air without exploding or turning to mush. You're also distributing the yeast, so it goes all throughout the dough. Then you set your dough aside to rest for a while, and the magic happens while it is resting. The dough expands, it can double it's size and then some, as the yeast begins to work. As the yeast eats the sugars in the dough, it releases the gases that are necessary for the dough to expand. Also, while the dough is feeding and expelling gas, it's also breeding and expanding. It multiplies fast, and if kept at an ideal, warmish temperature, that yeast will expand quickly and fill the bread with yeast flavor and the gasses necessary to rise.

So when I read in my Bible that the Kingdom of God is like yeast, I can totally understand, relate, and pray that I can maintain the correct temperature. Think of it. When someone becomes saved for the first time, they take in that yeast from Heaven. It permeates them, it puffs them up and fills them. If they feed it properly, with regular church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer, that yeast will grow and expand, and with proper care and attention, perhaps they will end up sharing that yeast. Sharing yeast is easy. All it takes is one little portion of dough to go from one ball of dough to another to share the yeast. In fact, sourdough is made with a yeast concoction that is fed in a particular way, and can last for decades if properly taken care of. It's kind of fun to think that as Christians, we're walking around sharing lumps of dough, and with the right attention, any one or more of those lumps of dough can turn into something so much more.

But sometimes, yeast isn't fed properly, and the dough doesn't do what it should. If, for example, your dough is too hot, it will kill the yeast, and you'll end up with a misshapen lump of hard flour as your end result. And there is something that Jesus mentioned specifically that I think deserves a little more attention, and that is that the woman worked the yeast into the dough. It took work and diligence. A great loaf of bread is not a quick task. It takes a long time to knead dough to the perfect consistency. So sometimes, as we're sharing the Kingdom of God with those around us, it's going to take a little work. It's going to take some diligence in prayer, and perseverance on our part. And we can also take heart if the yeast doesn't activate in someone right away.

One of the neatest aspects of yeast is that it can be removed and dried out, yet it will still be perfectly good to use. In those cases, the yeast just needs a little hydration to reactivate and come back to life. So when we encounter someone who maybe was living for God for a time, but clearly isn't anymore, we can water their dried yeast gently. We can drop words of faith into conversations with them. One time, one of those drops will catch, and that yeast will fire right back up again. One of the problems with us as Christians today is that we walk around worried that we are going to offend someone. We don't say what's on our mind because we're worried the other person is going to think us a Looney Toon. But what if that person is just waiting for the right word to make them realize that they are making a mistake? When we tiptoe on eggshells because we don't want to offend, we're not doing anyone any favors. If someone is dried up, they need to see that God matters. They need to hear how God has been faithful and has blessed you, and they need prayers from the faithful.

You know, this whole discussion of bread and yeast reminds me that I don't know anyone who would turn down the gift of bread. Really, if I baked up a loaf of homemade bread, I can't think of a single person who would tell me they don't like bread. Now, there are people who can't eat bread due to illness and diseases, but even they, when asked, will say the one thing they miss eating more than anything is bread. Bread is life, and if we look at the love of God like we look at a loaf of bread, why wouldn't we want to share it with everyone we know?

"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:50-51


Rina said...

This is a wonderful article! Would you mind if I linked back to it from my site?

Erika W. said...

Absolutely, Rina. :-)