According to the dictionary, a catalyst is (1) “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change” or (2) “a person or thing that precipitates an event”.
That’s what we should be, those of us who believe in and know God and Jesus. Of course it is only the Lord in us. But, then, it is the Lord in us. And He very definitely wants to change things. He wants to “increase the rate of reaction”; He wants to “precipitate events”. And if we’re moving with His Spirit within us, then we’ll be catalysts for good, in our families, in our communities and in our world. This is how it is supposed to be. This is what we are ordained, commissioned and even “predestined” to do.
Poor Jeremiah, he knew all about this. He had been given such a powerful message of judgment to declare to the rebellious people of God of that day. But it was difficult for him and sometimes he just didn’t want to do it. In one place he said, “Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name.’ But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not hold back.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
If you’re truly staying close to the Lord and wanting Him in you to have full sway in your life, there will certainly be times when He will want to move in you when you’re in some situations. Maybe it’s a “on the road to Jericho” (Luke 10:30) situation where you’re moved with compassion and just have to say or do something.
A strange happened to me years ago at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey when I burst into tears when I meet an Iraqi for the first time. I was surrounded by a bunch of Turkish men at the time and it was a little bit of an embarrassing moment for me. But I just knew it was the Lord in me so I didn’t quench it or hold back. I wrote a blog post about this experience called “Hawks and doves (Part 2) Istanbul, Turkey”.
We are supposed to be catalysts of change in this world. Jesus warned of “the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). But He also spoke of another kind of leaven. He said leaven is like the Kingdom of God itself. “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Luke 13:21)
And I could embarrass everyone now by asking for a show of hands of who actually knows what “leaven” is. I certainly never did until I became a Christian and read about it. Because the tradition of baking bread at home had passed out of my family several generations ago. A word we now use for “leaven” is “yeast”. And even that’s not always very well known.
Many years ago I lived with my 3 sons in Andra Pradesh, India for around 18 months. Something my two oldest sons would do almost every day, at the ages of 10 and 11, was to make bread. And part of that was to not only knead the dough but to include a rather small amount of yeast or leaven in it. This is what makes the bread rise over a few hours. But it’s kind of interesting if you’ve never been around it, and most of us haven’t in these times, to see how this tiny little ingredient somehow has this major effect on the whole lump of bread, making it rise like that.
But it’s all a picture of how we, the people of the kingdom of God on earth at this time, should “leaven the whole lump”. This is all a similar idea to what I wrote about a while back in “A Parable of Yogurts and Warm Milk”. Yogurt when added to milk actually works rather similarly and almost mysteriously like leaven does to bread.
The fact of the matter is, everything means something. This is what Paul meant in Romans 1 when he said, “The invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” (Romans 1:20) With all our technology and science in these times, it’s so easy to miss the messages all around us in His creation. And one of those messages is that we are “created for good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
He wants to change things. Things really, really need to be changed; most of us know and agree to that. But He doesn’t want us to just be observers. That’s what’s so sadly wrong with so many churches. “They say and do not” (Matthew 23:3). But then it’s been like that for generations and it’s very hard to change ingrained habits of inaction and trepidation. Generations ago, possibly well meaning religious leaders led the body of Christ out of the arena, off the playing field of Christian discipleship, and into the grandstands of mere Sunday church attendance. Maybe they thought everyone would be safer and more comfortable there. Sad mistake.
But just remember, if He’s in you, He wants to be allowed to use you as a catalyst, a world changer, as leaven to leaven the whole lump. God help us all to let Him do that in us, through us in the desperately darkening days we live in.