The Influence of Presence

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven 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.”
Matthew 13:33 New Living Translation

We have done our share of bread making in our house since buying a bread machine at a garage sale a few years ago. I have always been fascinated by the work of the yeast. I’ve learned you have to be careful with yeast. When I first attempted to make bread in our machine, I didn’t concern myself with the order I used to put the ingredients in. The yeast and the salt ended up touching each other and the salt killed the yeast. The end result was a hard and dense lump of cooked dough that had very little resemblance to bread. When used properly, though, the yeast permeates the flour mixture and creates a lighter, larger, and more airy loaf that is a pleasure to eat.

Throughout His time on earth, Jesus used many everyday illustrations to explain to His followers what the Kingdom of God was like. In the verse quoted above, He uses yeast as His illustration. This image points to how people who are living by the principles of the Kingdom of God can change the environment around them through influence. In a way, it contrasts the harsh religious system of the Pharisees seen in Chapter 12. The Pharisees tried to control behavior through external controls. The way of Jesus was to change hearts from the inside out. His approach would create healthier growth for people in an environment that nurtures and doesn’t crush.

We have the opportunity to bring the presence of the Kingdom of God to a variety of environments every day. The call of the followers of Jesus is to change environments from the inside out, not to control outcomes through external pressure. When we are faithfully present in people’s lives and follow the example of Jesus, we have the opportunity to influence positive change in the lives around us.

Jesus, help us to be people who influence others for good the way You do.

Published by llongard

I grew up in northeast Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend North Central University and graduated 1992 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. I spent most of the next fifteen years in the Twin Cities area until my family and I moved to Indiana in 2007. For most of the first seventeen years after college, I was involved in university ministry either as a volunteer, bi-vocational, or full-time campus minister. Through those years, I also worked in the main street marketplace as a retail manager/trainer and as a service representative in the insurance industry. I've also worked in various education roles. Most recently, I have been working on various projects addressing homelessness in Indianapolis and as team lead for Diakonos Community, a Communitas International missional initiative. Through this ministry, we seek to build missional communities in Indianapolis that serve and bring the life of Christ to those on the margins of society. Our strategy is to collaborate with community agencies that serve those in need and share Christ through meaningful relationships. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, three amazing daughters, and two cats (can't forget the cats, LOL). As a family, we enjoy camping, hiking, gardening, and going to the YMCA together. I also enjoy fishing, riding bicycle, and being involved in whatever my daughters are doing. Though I have not lived in the Green Bay area for over 20 years, I am still a major Packer fan.

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