When I looked at the parable again, it just made me laugh.
Jesus often had a dry sense of humor–and in this particular story, he refers to the society in which we live as “the lump.”
Could it be personified any better? Just a big pile of dough, laying there with no prospect of becoming anything in particular, susceptible to being manipulated.
Even though we are tempted to become part of the dough, Jesus suggested we become the leaven–the yeast–the ingredient that quietly slips inside the lump, ends up affecting it by expanding it and making it into bread.
It is the reasonable expectation of all people who are followers of Jesus–thus Jesonian: to contribute to the world around them by adding their yeast into the mix to produce the bread of life.
The problem is that many Christians, instead of using emotional leavening in their outreach, end up with spiritual “littering. ”
- They waste their witness.
- They cast aside the power of the Gospel.
- And they limit the scope of how they can affect their brothers and sisters by offering tracts and little bits of scripture.
This spiritual “littering” occurs in three distinct ways:
1. A generic God.
Yes, in an attempt to become all things to all men, we talk about God instead of Jesus. It seems safer. It appears to be less offensive.
But since Jesus did not come to start a religion and is not in competition with those who did, the way to gain emotional ground with others–to leaven the lump of their lives–is to share the compassion, the heart, the tolerance and the mind of Jesus.
God is an idea. Jesus is a feeling.
2. We also spiritually litter offering an invitation to come to our church.
May I give you a clue? The people who are inclined to go to church at this point are already there.
So the next step for creating a spiritual awakening in this country will not be church attendance. It may lead to that eventually, but to leaven the lump–to put your yeast of emotion into people’s lives–you have to participate in social interaction where they live.
The Internet, dinner invitations, parties, or even going to a movie with a friend is much more effective than the spiritual littering of inviting them to your congregation.
3. And the final step of spiritual littering is feeling the need to make a stand on social issues or moral questions so as to separate our “sheepishness” from those who are more “goat-like.”
We achieve nothing with this.
Whether we are vigilant or vindictive in our assertions makes no difference because we are still accused of being judgmental.
The emotional leavening that Jesus wants us to bring to life is good cheer.
Rather than looking at the tribulation of the world and having a disagreement with it, he tells us to leave the world to him and instead, pursue a life of good cheer.
It’s just a fact–people like to be around happy people.
This does not mean we are free of difficulty, but it means we come into trial in good cheer, survive it, and come out the other end also cheered by the good.
We have too much spiritual littering going on in our society today which renders the Gospel weak because it is at the mercy of people’s perception of the church.
Jesus said the world is a lump.
Put your emotional leavening into it, and let the yeast expand the experience of those around you.
Share Jesus, eat with them … and be of good cheer.