A woman I have never met before showed up at my door today. Without knowing it I had blessed her and her family, and I probably would never have known if she hadn’t stopped by. Our brief interaction gave me a glimpse of how things are supposed to work in God’s kingdom.
In one of Jesus’ parables he says that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which is basically yeast. But in my story, the kingdom of heaven is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, or SCOBY for short. What in the world do you do with a SCOBY? You use it to brew homemade Kombucha, of course. Kombucha is a beverage that’s been around for ages, but it’s grown in popularity over the last few years, especially among the health conscious. It’s easy and inexpensive to make, and loaded with healthy pro biotic bacteria. The thing about a SCOBY is that it naturally multiplies (in this way it’s similar to other cultures, like those used to make yogurt or sourdough bread). So we got a “daughter” culture from a friend a few years ago, and it multiplies every few months. This allows us to pass along cultures to friends. Eventually they can do the same.
And that’s exactly what happened. We gave a SCOBY to a friend a few months ago, and when it divided, she passed on part to a friend. This friend had already split her culture and given part to another family, who was also enjoying it. The friend of a friend was the woman I met today. She used the word “blessing” to describe this culture, and offered to pay me for another one.
So, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven. The leaven that he was referring to was not the dry grains that you buy in packets at the grocery store. It was a living breathing organism. This leaven transforms the dough it touches. It not only makes the bread lighter and more flavorful, but it protects it from spoiling and makes the grain in the flour easier to digest.
It does all this because it is alive. And because it’s alive, it naturally multiplies.
If Jesus himself draws this parallel, why doesn’t the gospel actually spread this way? It’s complicated, of course. But I think the most basic reason is that often the message we share when we share the “good news” isn’t actually alive. Like the baker’s yeast we use today, we keep it in a hermetically sealed container, away from light, air, and heat, and it only works in certain controlled settings. We need to rediscover a living breathing, transforming message. A message that spreads naturally because it’s alive.
We need to ingest it. And we need to share it.
We keep our SCOBY in a glass jar on our kitchen counter. We frequently show and explain it to curious guests. I challenge you to examine the faith “culture” growing in your home. Is it alive and life giving? Is it multiplying?