“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1
The yeast of the Pharisees. Here Jesus is not talking about the words or deeds of the Pharisees. No- He is talking about the yeast. Yeast is a vital ingredient in baking bread. After you prepare the dough and mix the ingredients you must add the yeast. Without it the bread would be very flat and very tasteless. The yeast is what makes the bread what it is meant to be-bread. It gives bread its shape. It is essentially the sustainer of life for the bread. Without it the bread would cease to be bread. The interesting thing about bread is that a little yeast goes a long way. What you think will have no effect actually plays a major role. That one pinch spreads throughout the dough, causing the bread to rise up, change shape, and become a completely different substance.
Have you been changed by the “yeast” of the Pharisees? Have you become a completely different substance in response to the one little foreign pinch of yeast? Have you risen up and taken on a new form, one that isn’t even recognizable to those who know you?
Like that dough, we are easily changed by the yeast of the world. What we thought would not affect us changes us completely. That one song we listen to could change the way we look at things. That one website we continually log onto could lead us right down the path of addiction. That one book we read could transform our thoughts completely.
I find it interesting, however, to read that these small things are not the yeast Jesus is admonishing. The yeast of the Pharisees was not their beliefs, laws or practices. It was their hypocrisy. It was their attempt to cover up their real selves and show the world a fake. It was their invisibility cloak, their safety net. Under the guise of hypocrisy they didn’t have to fess up. They didn’t have to acknowledge the truth. They covered up their imperfections, pretended that they had it all together, and started a chain reaction. Pretty soon no one was real. The street was filled with plastic people wearing plastic smiles living plastic lives. There was no truth among friends. No honesty among the vegetable stands. Only lies, deceit and cover-ups.
I like to think that somehow we’ve changed. I would like to distance myself from those Pharisees and include myself in a different category. But the truth is- I fit into their crowd. I too live a life of deceit. I put it on right alongside the make-up in the morning. I put on the face of perfection and refuse to let anyone see the flaws underneath. With my new face I can be anyone I want. And I tend to be everyone but me. Church is the worst. It is the church where the mask shifts into high gear. “Practically perfect in every way.” My face is set, ready to please the crowd with my perfect life. At church I have no struggles. At church I have no doubt. At church I have no voice. At church the real me dies a little more.
You see- we were not meant to live under the masks of hypocrisy. We were meant to be real. We were meant to leave every imperfection bare, out in the open. We were meant to own up to our faults and let God change us from the inside out. We can’t change if we refuse to be open. And we can’t be open until we are willing to look at our lives and acknowledge our own imperfections.
Imperfections do not equate failure. The only thing they tell us is that we are not perfect. What a relief.