Mowing a strip of grass beside the alley behind my house, I nudge against a low, dead stump. The fungus I did not formerly notice erupts, producing a shockingly dense plume of ashen spores. The release continues for several seconds, a gentle breeze wafting the cloud toward waiting fungal nurseries of decaying material elsewhere.
On one hand, I wonder if the cloud is toxic to people or animals, thankfully none of which I see within reach of its menacing form. Because of their similarly diffusive nature, Paul uses leaven and cancer to warn several early churches that seemingly inconsequential nudges—one person’s immorality (1 Corinthians 5:6) or a clique’s errant teaching (Galatians 5:9, 2 Timothy 2:17)—can have far-reaching consequences: “a little leaven leavens the whole lump,” or “it will spread like cancer.”
On the other hand, I pronounce a quiet “you’re welcome” to the now empty, shriveled, outer casing of the plume’s origin, wondering how far the spores will travel before they become who-knows-how-many offspring and generations of their parent. Jesus uses the same propagating nature of leaven as Paul, but to inspire his followers with the Kingdom of God’s expansive future. Crowds celebrate when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees who have corrected him for healing an infirmed woman on the Sabbath. The Pharisees are right to worry, and the crowds to celebrate. The little things Jesus does to help people will spread until there is nowhere the Kingdom of God is not present. “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened” (Luke 13:20-21).
This week, may we remember the import even our slightest influence may have, and may each of our little nudges—thoughts, words, and acts—introduce plumes from God’s kingdom into the world’s atmosphere.