An Ounce of Clout
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 13:33 (Holman) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of
heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50
pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.”
In Jesus’ day, women usually baked at one time enough bread to last a family several days. Each time bread was made, a piece of dough, a starter, was kept to put in the dough next time. This way the yeast was kept and transferred.
The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast speak optimistically of God’s Kingdom from different perspectives. The mustard seed pictures obvious outward growth and magnitude. The yeast portrays unstoppable inward influence.
The parable of the yeast teaches us four vital lessons about God’s kingdom. One, God’s kingdom will bless the world. Yeast improves dough. Bread without yeast is hard, dry, untasty. Yeast makes bread soft, porous, spongy, and more satisfying by adding a salty taste. Christianity is sent into the world to bless it.
We have no right to let the world lie dormant in its own deadness. We are here to make Earth a better place. This is our heritage. When Bloody Queen Mary reigned England, she jailed so many Bible believers that it was said the prisons in England became Christian schools and churches. The presence of Jesus blesses.
Most kingdoms extend by force. God’s spreads by winsomeness. Rulers often think people can be compelled to believe truth. Jesus corrected this fallacy. People are to be wooed to Him, won by His beauty, persuaded of their free will.
Two, God’s kingdom has clout. Yeast’s most obvious trait is its penetrating influence. The quiet marvelous all-pervasive impact of yeast on dough pictures how Christ’s kingdom best maneuvers to make headway. God’s kingdom, even in small doses, will exert clout. It influences everything it touches.
We see this when Christianity first enters a non-Christian environment, whether a family, a church, a school, a club, a workplace. A few believers get in, take root, live exemplary lives, and begin to have impact on their surroundings.
International students from several nations were discussing how Christianity could best be spread. After many suggestions, a girl from a part of Africa where Christianity is thriving, said, “To take it to one of our villages, we take a Christian family and send them to live in the village and they make the village Christian by living there.” Literature, advertising, and mass evangelism have a role in kingdom expansion, but nothing is as effective as an individual who influences like yeast.
Three, God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Yeast affects the whole lump of dough it’s put in. God’s kingdom will not be halted till it impacts all the world. Our Master said, “This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Many individuals reject Christ, but His kingdom will never be contained. It will always be a force to be reckoned with. Not all the world will be won, but all will be impacted. This goal of seeking to influence every person everywhere, what we call the Great Commission, is never to be relinquished. It is our mandate.
Christianity is unavoidable, it has tentacles everywhere. Far and wide, Jesus has to be dealt with. Lots of power flows in and from His kingdom. It succeeds not because it is big, but because it is alive, pulsating with God’s very presence.
In our current situation, are we overwhelmed, are spiritual tides against us? Take heart, we’re part of something much bigger and stronger than ourselves.
In the parable of the yeast, Jesus was saying to His disciples, “There are only twelve of you. You are weak, poor, and have no sponsoring organization, but you have Me, and that will be enough.” He empowers yeast. The Twelve weren’t to be discouraged or deterred, for when the gram is God’s, its clout is dynamite.
Four, God’s kingdom is to mix with unbelievers. Yeast, of no help if aloof and to itself, has to mingle with the dough. To do its job, yeast can not sit on one shelf, and dough on another. The yeast has to be plunged deep into the heart of the mass. The light of the world, to help, has to shine in darkness. The salt of the earth, to help, has to be rubbed into meat. Yeast, to help, is put inside the dough.
Had Jesus stayed at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ comfortable house, and not ventured out to mingle with sinners, His influence would have been minimal. As Christ-followers, we are to interact with the lost, not isolate ourselves from them. Our duty is to touch the lives of unbelievers in order to influence them for Jesus.
Christianity has always floundered in monasticism. Gladly, the extreme vestiges of monasticism are behind us. Sadly, its relics remain, and haunt us. We who grew up in Bible believing churches were hounded with two Bible verses which we paradoxically interpreted in ways totally contradictory to each other.
The first verse was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV). This verse, my favorite, drove us to deep emotion and love, to appreciating the fact God Himself came and lived in the midst of sinners.
The second verse was 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” We tended to interpret this verse to mean, “Hands off! Beware the world! We had best have limited contact with sinners.”
Bible verses do not contradict each other, but our traditional interpretations of these two do. In one we praise God for coming to dwell among sinners. In the other, we decide God wants us to avoid the very people He came to be among.
I need to choose my words carefully here. Let there be no mistake, holiness matters most, always. Due to contact, unbelievers should grow more like believers, and not vice versa. We are to retain a high level of godliness at all cost.
Our interpretation of John 3:16 is dead-on correct, but our interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:17 needs altering. We do “come out” with regard to behavior and to meeting on their terms, where we may be tempted to sin, but we do not “come out” to the point of not having contact. We must create safe settings for contact.
Wherever we are, we are to be there as obvious Christ-followers–at school, at work, at home, at play. We must never leave behind the fact and evidence of our Christianity, but do need to plunge ourselves deep into the midst of society.
Some here need to hear me say, “Get out of your Christian bubble. Join a club or a social organization where you have to rub shoulders with unbelievers.”
Others here, who already do this, need to hear me say, “Being in the secular setting is not enough. Whatever group you frequent, everyone in it has to know you are a Christ-follower.” We penetrate not to hide or be invisible, but to gain a foothold, a powerful position from which we impact others deeply for Jesus. We believers are yeast. Do we all have a lump of dough around us every day?