Bread, Yeast and the Kingdom of God : What baking bread taught me today

The aroma in our house right now is AMAZING! It’s because of this:

IMG_0743Yes, just call me Suzy Homemaker. I made fresh whole wheat bread today. You know you wish you were here right now to have a slice with some butter all melting into it. Sorry, just couldn’t help myself. (You can find the recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Bread here.)

It’s a long process to make bread. It’s not something you can just throw together and walk away from. There are a few stages to getting to that yummy, golden, airy slice of bread.

First you make the “sponge,” where the yeast, warm water, salt, honey and a portion of the flour are combined and rest a little while in a warm place. The yeast needs something sweet to feed it, and warm liquid to bring it out of it’s dormant state. It also needs a little warmth all through the bread-making process to keep the yeast doing what it’s meant to do – fill the dough with air.

After the sponge has had a chance to swell up a bit, you knead in more flour to work the yeast and other ingredients together, and cause the dough to have a better texture. You let it sit for a while longer, the yeast causing the ball of dough to double in size.

Once you have a big puffy cloud of dough, you divide it up, put it in the pans and let it rest in some warmth again. Finally, after all this kneading, shaping and resting, the bread goes into the oven and that aroma fills the house. The yeast responds again to heat and raises the loaf even more, creating a light, airy, delicious bread.

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Jesus said, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:20

When You look at a loaf or piece of bread, you can’t see the yeast. You could take the crumbs, place them under a high-powered microscope, and still you wouldn’t see the yeast. The only way you can see the yeast, is to see the effects of it.

And that’s the way, Jesus said, that the kingdom of God should be in the world. Like yeast working in the dough, it takes its time to work its way through us, drawing nourishment from the sweet things and persevering in the rough and turbulent kneading life throws at us. It grows in the warmth of everyday light and endures the heat of fire to become something that nourishes others.

The kingdom of God isn’t seen in outward, obvious ways. It’s seen in quiet, unassuming ways.

In the warm embrace of a friend in need.
In the smile at the clerk as she’s scanning our groceries.
In recognizing the humanity of others, despite their circumstances or ours.
In the way we show love to our fellow human beings.

Jesus also said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Sadly, we often miss the mark on the “love one another” command. In our race to protect our image and reputation under the disguise of “Christian values,” we spew hurtful and sometimes hateful words at those whose values or behavior we disapprove of. We look down our noses at those who are different than us, passing by the hurting and wounded in the name of Jesus himself, so that we don’t poison our good name and reputation.

Christians, that is not what Jesus meant for us to do. He called us to love one another. He did not call us to love only those who are like us or are willing to change to be like us. He called us to love all others, and in doing so he said the kingdom of God, invisible like yeast, will grow and thrive and cause others to see the beauty of his kingdom, here, now, on earth.

He didn’t say it would be easy. He didn’t say it would be pain free or question free. If we are going to be the kingdom of God in this world – if the world is going to see the effects of the kingdom of God within us, then we had better get to feeding it with love, growing it with warmth, kneading it with endurance and embracing the fiery compassion that challenges us to get past our preferences and really love like Jesus does.

And you thought I was just telling you about bread.


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