Organic growth is a term that we hear often these days. In marketing and especially on the web, it is the kind of growth that you get through referrals and word of mouth and anything other than direct advertising or marketing efforts. Organic growth is something that you can’t work for as it just grows by itself like … well…an “organism.”
Leaven in God’s Kingdom
Jesus knew about organic growth and that is evident from this scripture. He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Leaven is a substance used to make dough ferment and rise, such as yeast. The Oxford dictionary also says of leaven that it has a “pervasive transforming influence.”
Four Aspects of Leaven
Now when we consider this aspect of leaven and the fact that Jesus is applying it to the kingdom of God we need to think about what he is referring to. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like “…leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
There are four aspects to this scripture and information that we see from Jesus’ words. First, the “leaven” has a pervasive transforming influence. Second, the leaven is hidden in the flour. Third, when the task of the “leaven” is completed ALL of the flour is leavened. And fourth, the leaven works by itself, that is, you don’t have to do anything else as it grows organically.
What this means
Taking each of these points one at a time, let us look at the meaning of all this.
First, the leaven has a “pervasive transforming influence.” Whenever the word of the Kingdom of God comes into a person’s life and they take it into their heart, they cannot help but be transformed. The Word of God is a powerful transforming agent in our lives, as the writer of Hebrews showed, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Second, the leaven is hidden in the flour. When a person first receives the words of the Kingdom of God into their hearts, they should not go out and try to “save the world” as some do. It is important that they first become stable and learn from the Lord so that they can stand themselves. Otherwise they will be bruised and battered by the world and will not have the strength that comes from the teachings of the Kingdom of God to stand in the face of adversity. That is why it is important to ensure they first have the kingdom themselves before going to others, lest they lose it for lack of maturity. That is why the Lord says the leaven is hidden in the flour. It is not obvious and in your face but a matter of the spirit within you.
Third, when the task of the “leaven” is completed ALL of the flour is leavened. The work of the leaven within flour is pervasive. It grows inside the flour until it is completely leavened. In the same way the teachings of the Kingdom of God work within a person wholly and completely transforming them into the image of Christ when that work is complete. It begins as a small part of the person but grows to fill every inch, every fibre of their being. In the previous scripture to this we see a similar teaching how a tiny mustard seed starts so small but grows into a large bush or tree. This is a similar teaching.
Fourth, the leaven works by itself. The growth within a person is organic. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change us into the image of Christ. The work of transformation comes from the Holy Spirit as we see Paul write saying, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Transformation is essential. It is part of the purpose of the truth of the New Covenant and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to do this transformation. But we do not do this work. We are being brought into God’s image and no man knows what that is like. That is why we cannot do it ourself for we do not know the nature of God other than what we have been allowed to see in the life of Jesus. But as the leaven that is the teachings of the Kingdom of God work in our life, we become like Jesus and like God and this is the power that has been given to us…to be like Jesus and be called a child of God.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Kriss Szkurlatowski)