Pastor Mark’s eNote – The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like Malware

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[Jesus] told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

 

     It seems innocuous enough. A woman is making bread (and a lot of it at that, enough to feed 100 people), but in Jesus’ day his parable of the yeast probably drew quizzical looks from the crowd and maybe even a gasp or two from the more sensitive souls on hand. You see, among first-century Jews, yeast was almost always an image of corruption. A little yeast in dough was like the one bad apple that spoils the bunch (see Matthew 16:6, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:9).*
     Sounds like something Jesus would do, doesn’t it? He was always turning things on their head, reversing our assumptions, and generally messing with us. Here he takes a negative image and attaches to it nothing less than the Kingdom of Heaven. Huh.
     If Jesus were speaking today, he might say something like “The kingdom of heaven is like malware that, moving through e-mail attachments and social media, infects the entire network.” OK, he’d probably say it better, but you get the point: The kingdom of heaven is a virus moving quietly, even unnoticed, yet transforming the world by its strange power.
     Life can be ugly these days, with bitter words flung willy-nilly and tempers on edge (I saw a video the other day of a fight that broke out among attendees at a high school graduation, then there was that other one on a flight from Japan to Los Angeles and the other one at the airline counter and probably a few more today that I missed). We seem to be at each other’s throats (You disagree? You’re stupid. No, I take that back. You’re evil!). It’s all so loud and in-your-face.
     Yet, somewhere in the midst of it all is the kingdom of heaven, moving undeterred, transforming the world through an act of kindness, the embrace of a stranger, forgiveness granted, justice demanded, the meal served, a home provided, a child fostered. The foes are powerful; sin and evil have inertia on their side; but remember how Jesus said to Peter, “I will build my church, and the firewalls of Hades will not prevail against it.”
     You, my friend, are a batch of insidious code, and your calling is to go out and infect the system, one byte at a time. Go with compassion; go in grace and mercy; go with confidence and joy. Do not fear. Speak truth with love; listen; care; act. See the person in front of you? Love that person; seek good for that person. Pass along the malware.
                                                                                                                                                In Christ,
                                                                                                                                                Mark Westmoreland
* See The New Interpreter’s Bible or Thomas Long’s wonderful commentary on Matthew (a part of the Westminster Bible Companion series, Westminster John Knox Press), among others.
Author: Mark Westmoreland

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