Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it?
It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden;
it grows and becomes a tree,
and the birds make nests in its branches.”
He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like?
It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread.
Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour,
it permeated every part of the dough.”
I listened to this reading today and for the first time, I saw it completely differently than I ever have before.
I believe this is the way God intends scripture and truth to work.
There are layers and layers of truth meant to be caught and captured at different times of our life, different seasons, and at different stages of our relationship with him, with ourselves, and with the world around us.
I want to ask you to do what I did today.
Read this short paragraph and see what you find.
What common themes are you seeing?
For the first time ever while reading this, I wasn’t focused on how the tiny mustard seed grew into a giant, strong tree. For once, this passage was not about my tiny faith growing into something solid or immovable.
Instead of the seed, my focus was drawn to the birds.
The mustard seed grew into a tree, and birds were able to nest in its branches.
The tree was there for the birds. It served the world around it. It provided a safe place to rest.
It gave them a home.
The bread as well.
Have you ever had unleavened bread?
It’s food and that’s its purpose,
but it’s pretty bland and boring.
It was also insanely common to the people of Israel back then, and likely to all people at that time. Yeast and other leavening agents were hard to come by, so most people ate flat, unleavened bread.
Unleavened bread is fine.
But leavened bread…O.M.G.
It is so different from flat bread that it’s almost not even comparable! They are totally different things.
Instead of flat and boring, it’s soft and rich.
Warm and comforting.
Sweet and soothing.
Leavened bread is like a warm embrace for my mouth.
It makes me feel at home.
You see…the common themes in this story are not so much about your faith growing strong.
Sure, there is the theme of a small amount making a big difference. But is it really about the size of our individual faith?
Both of these stories end with the original elements making a big difference,
But for someone else.
The tree provides a home for birds. It makes space for others.
The yeast turns flat, boring bread, into a rich and delicate experience for the one eating it.
The seed does not become a tree for its own sake.
It doesn’t grow big and strong to show how sturdy it is.
The yeast doesn’t puff up the bread just to show off and look better.
They both exist to make life better for someone else.
For the world around them.
The kingdom of God is like that.
It makes life better…
When I live into the “kingdom of God” I am changed. And that change is not for my sake.
It’s not so I can go to heaven,
or be morally superior to others,
or to solidify my beliefs like a deeply-rooted tree.
When I let God’s way–his love, his grace, his radical acceptance of others–become MY way…
I make life better for the world around me.
I make room for others to find a home…a safe place,
If the world around me is not richer,
then my “kingdom of God” is probably not truly God’s.
If the change in me is not welcoming ANY other human, animal, or even plant to find a home where they are seen, known, and feel safe to be exactly as they are,
Then I’ve missed the point.
The point of this story is that the kingdom of God works in such a way,
it only takes a small amount to make a big difference for the world around it.
So if we are part of God’s kingdom…truly
Then love someone today.
Someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Someone who hasn’t earned it.
Someone you don’t want to love.
Love them because God loves you.
Love them because love makes room.
Love them because the kingdom of god
I should make a small side note here to acknowledge that the Kingdom of God is not about being more morally superior.
It is not about being right, or righteous. In fact, the story of the yeast is very scandalous, because in Jesus’ Jewish culture and religion, unleavened bread was seen as more pure than leavened bread. It was a metaphor for God’s people saying that God’s people should be more pure than the world around them by abstaining from certain things.
It’s why they ate unleavened bread on holy days.
So the fact that Jesus would say “the kingdom of God is like yeast that leavens the whole dough” is dangerously scandalous and heretical.
The point is that the kingdom is not about being better people who live more “godly,” purer lives.
The kingdom of God is about making life better for the world around us.
And it only takes a little.