OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #267 Mini Beetles Cereal
What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Half a worm.
I thought about this lame old joke as I cleaned out some cereal. It had been in our cupboard for a while, but not finding it stale I dumped it into my bowl. A few moments later, I glanced down and noticed some dark pieces floating in the milk. My first thought was that they were bits of cereal, but a hunch told me I should investigate further. Unless I accidentally picked up a box of “Mini Beetles” instead of our usual variety, there were insects in my food.
It only takes a little bit of something to affect the whole lot. A little salt makes soup tasty. A little catalyst makes epoxy harden. And a few bugs ruin breakfast.
In Matthew 16, Jesus uses the analogy of yeast to convey the idea that a little teaching can completely change us, for better or for worse. In case we need reminding, bakers add yeast to bread dough so that it rises. It doesn’t take much, but once it mixes thoroughly it affects the whole batch.
That was the point, actually. Not long after Jesus fed thousands of people by multiplying the lunches of a couple of boys, the Pharisees and Sadducees challenged Jesus to produce a sign to prove he was legit. We often paint these spiritual teachers as mean ogres, but we must remember that they were very popular and highly respected. These revered religious leaders held a lot of sway among the crowd, including the disciples. Jesus saw this and warned them about the “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (16:6)
The disciples thought Jesus was trying to protect them from cheap bread, but he had something else in mind. “You of little faith... do you still not understand?” (16:8-9) In Mark 6 we see the same story from a slightly different perspective: “...Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” (6:17-18)
The disciples were not firm in their faith about Jesus, and the constant questioning and pressures from the Pharisees and Sadducees produced conflicting thoughts. The disciples ought to be able to see for themselves that Jesus was the real deal, but the doubts and teachings of these popular spiritual leaders were attractive and it was hard to resist the pressure. It was easier, perhaps, to follow the crowd even though it would be a denial of all they had witnessed.
“You of little faith.” These are tough words. No one wants to be seen as small or little. Jesus challenged them to commit. Had they not seen? Had they not heard? In just a little while, Jesus would ask them, “Who do you say I am?” Could they see for themselves that Jesus was the One? (Matt 16:15)
This is an important word for our day and age. Never before have we had such a wide array of views available to us so easily. And, what is more, never have there been so many people questioning who Jesus is. Sorting through all these opinions can be difficult, especially when some of these people are popular speakers and writers.
It is always important to remember what Jesus has done for us. We have the proof of who Jesus is by what he has done in our lives. Has he made us kinder and more compassionate? Has he healed relationships? Has he changed us to make us better people? Do we feel more peace and security? Has he provided in difficult situations? Does he give us hope for the future? These are as much a sign to us as the miracles in Jesus’ day.
There will always be people who doubt, but let us not forget what Jesus has done for us so that our commitment may be strong.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a bi-weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Oct 29, 2011. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/.