This week, an email from an “underground” group about the Leaven of the Pharisees appeared in my inbox. I had always acknowledged that the Pharisees were, uhhm, pharisaical – straining at gnats and swallowing camels in their Letter of the Law Legalism, but I never considered exactly what the Leaven was. It fits perfectly with all that Jesus said about them, however, to consider that the Leaven was hypocrisy itself. He warned us to “Beware of Leaven of the Pharisees, because just a Little bit of it would Leaven the whole Lump of dough. How easy it is to become tainted with hypocrisy, the “holier than thou” mentality that poisons Life itself and makes us Law breakers instead of Love makers. We have opportunities daily!
Last night, for example as I was Looking at books in a Local discount store, I encountered a man Loudly accusing his wife that she “must have spent” a Lot more money on some perfume than she had admitted. A few minutes Later, they stood near the Bibles where he criticized the selections, saying that the average person wouldn’t know the difference between the King James Bible and the New King James Bible. When they moved on, I Looked to see what could have sparked such a comment, but could only surmise that he was a King James-only believer.
Replaying the scene in my mind this morning I thought about confronting the man and asking him if he thought the translators paid by the British Monarch, James in 1611 were more Learned or Loved God more than those who Live in modern times. I could have even asked him if he thought the Dead Sea Scrolls and recent archeological discoveries that informed more recent translations, were inferior to the subjects of James, who was at the Least, a superstitious despot, who claimed, along with many others in the monarchy, to have divine power. His point of view seemed to Lack a factual foundation. It then occurred to me that I had an immediate distaste for the man who publicly spoke out against and embarrassed his wife. I could easily have asked him if he believed his brand of Christianity was one that Led others to the Love of God.
Then I considered a recent visit with a Lovely Lady who had been born and raised in the Jewish faith. She asked me if I could get help from my church in promoting my new album. My response was that I did not currently “have” a church. Whether this was to be a permanent or a temporary condition was irrelevant at the time, so I Left it at that. Was it because of the “born againers?” she inquired. Leaving hardly a moment for me to answer, she Launched into a story about a client who had come to her house for bookkeeping services and told her that he wanted to be the one to convert her. She was not amused. It was apparent that her guest had no sensitivity to any spirit but the one that drove her further away from the Love of God. She very carefully explained what she really believed about Jesus and very graciously dismissed this “born againer” along with all the others. It Left me speechless.
Earlier yesterday, I stood in the hall with a fellow teacher, who took the opportunity to mention her own struggle with Lawbreakers in our midst: those who think that rules are merely suggestions meant for others. I understood, of course, but acknowledged that I had to Learn to Look the other way so as to maintain my focus on my own business. “Sometimes,” I added, “I just have to keep to myself.” She smiled, and said she was glad I was there, and remembered another friend’s words to her, that “some people are just put in our paths to teach us grace.”
Indeed, even though Jesus protested Loudly, and publicly Laid into the Law-Lovers, we, his followers, are Left vulnerable by even righteous indignation, which very rapidly (overnight, as it were) inflates us with the very Leaven we decry.
We are Left with only one solution, and that is to Let Jesus do the scourging, while we focus on His Love. It is the “new” commandment against which there is no Law. Speak the truth in that Love if we are Led to do so, Leave if we must, but we can only render the Leaven powerless by Laying down our Lives so that the Lord who has Loved can Live through us.