Last week Ron talked about the need to wait on God. This week we heard about the parable of the Leaven and how God's plan will inevitably come to pass for us as individuals and as a church. Indeed we saw that God's Kingdom may seem small or slow or unseen, but it is unstoppable! His Kingdom is like leaven put in some dough; it will work sometimes quietly, sometimes unseen but it will keep working until it has accomplished all God intends for it to accomplish.
The Kingdom as it is presented here represents Jesus and his words, the gospel, the Word of God, and His Holy Spirit working within us. We saw first that it is foreign to us. That is it is not dependent on us, but on God who planted it in us. The Kingdom comes into us and combines with us. It doesn't destroy our personalities, or abilities, or faculties, but works with us. We are redeemed for his use. The Kingdom comes to bring change to every part of our being. Our natures don't get better, but are changed.
Leaven, and so the Kingdom, works in a number of ways. First it spreads; it is 'hidden' in us and will continue to spread until every part is effected. The work God begins he completes (Phil. 1:6). It is strong; A very small amount effects everything. The Word of God is "living and powerful, and sharper than a two edged sword..." (Heb. 4:12), Often we become so aware of our own smallness that we lose sight of God's greatness. His power is at work within us. The Kingdom also works secretly; We may not be aware of the work of the Kingdom in our lives but it is at work. John Newton once said, "I am not what I want to be. I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I hope to be, but thank God I am not what I used to be." It is silent; We live in a culture that does no appreciate silence. We must have some 'noise' going at all times. On our phones, on the internet, you name it. We don't appreciate that things may be happening even though we don't hear or see anything. Just because we don't hear him doesn't mean the Holy Spirit isn't working. He is working...stop doubting! If all you are looking for is the obvious and spectacular you will miss what the Spirit is doing in silence. Finally the Kingdom work is savory; The Holy Spirit is changing us to be "...and aroma of Christ...to those who are perishing." (2 Cor. 2:15)
One small detail we don't want to miss is that when a baker puts leaven in the bread he must knead it to make sure it works through it all. He pulls, and pounds, and stretches to work it it. So the Holy Spirit will do for us. Difficulties and trials come into our lives to press the Kingdom into new and as yet unaffected parts of our lives. Like a good baker the Holy Spirit is pounding, and pressing, and stretching so that every part of us is changed.
One final caution about leavening. It is most often spoken of in the Bible in a negative way. There is another type of leaven we want to avoid at all costs....that is the leaven of this world. Paul said of this worldly leaven, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump". (Gal. 5:9) Our world is getting darker not lighter. Sexual deviance and confusion, legalization of drugs, the glorification of science et al. We are constantly subject to the leaven of this world's way of thinking and feeling, and if we are not careful about this 'leaven' we can easily be effected and it can work its way through our thinking and lives. We must guard against the worldliness that can so effect us.
In the end God sent his Son into the world and they tried to stop him. They even killed him on a cross. But like a seed falling into the ground and dying...like the leaven being put into the dough, Jesus is raised to bring the power of God and the Kingdom of God into our lives and it is unstoppable. If you have the Spirit of God within you, you can take comfort in the fact that the work he has begun cannot be stopped in your life. God will finish the work he begins!
Questions for discussion:
1. What kind of changes are you able to look back on and see in your life?
2. In what ways have you seen yourself look to yourself instead of to God?
3. How does this reality of the unstoppable work of God's Kingdom effect you today? How should it effect you?