From the Pastor's Study
From the Pastor’s Study
Creamed Honey and Yeast and Teachings
Jan 18, 2023
I prefer creamed honey over regular honey. We have a few jars of honey at home, and I decided that I would try to make creamed honey, and, thankfully, the Internet has a recipe. It’s not difficult. Take one part creamed honey and 7 parts regular honey, mix them, put the container in a cool place for a couple of weeks, and you will have creamed honey. I tried it, and it works. I wasn’t sure it was going to work because I didn’t mix the two that well. In case you haven’t tried it, honey is rather difficult to stir, and because I didn’t feel like getting the mixer out, I mixed it with a spoon. Even though it wasn’t mixed that well, all of the regular honey became creamed honey.
I did some more reading and discovered that creamed honey is simply crystalized honey. Apparently if you mix small crystals into regular honey, those small crystals will cause the uncrystallized honey next to them form into small crystals as well. It seems that the creamed honey crystals reproduce new crystals until all the regular honey had been crystalized. I suspect that even a small amount of creamed honey would eventually crystalize a whole pot of regular honey, given enough time.
Although the process of crystalizing honey is vastly different from the process of leavening bread with yeast, the effect is the same. In ancient times, before yeast was readily available, people would take dough that was leavened (had yeast growing in it already) and mix it with unleavened dough. The yeast cells would work their way through the unleavened dough and in a short time, with very little effort, the entire lump of dough would become leavened, and then it could be baked to provide a loaf of bread.
Jesus said that the same can be said of teachings. In Matthew 16:6ff. Jesus talks about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew records for us that Jesus and his disciples had forgotten to bring bread with them before they crossed the Sea of Galilee, and it seems that as they were discussing what they should do, Jesus tells his disciples to be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The disciples, apparently, wondered what Jesus was saying and initially they thought that he was warning them that the yeast that the Pharisees and Sadducees used to bake their bread was bad so they should not use it. A verse or two later, however, the disciples understood that Jesus was talking about the teachings of these two religious sects.
It is quite amazing how an idea or point of view or worldview can permeate our lives and become part of who we are. Sometimes this can be positive. It’s quite amazing to think that a couple of decades ago, it took only a year or so for us to throw everything in the same trash bag and make the move toward separating our garbage into trash, compostables and waste. I suspect that most of us automatically look for a recycling container when we want to throw out an aluminum can and if we don’t find one, it disturbs us a little.
Sometimes ideas or teachings become part of our way of thinking, but they are not so beneficial. In fact, they can be downright harmful. It may have taken a few years longer than with recycling, but in a few decades we went from a society which frowned on extramarital sexual activity to become one that seems to celebrate every kind of sexual attitude or action that deviates from the norms of Scripture. Even people who have grown up in the church and who make the claim that they are committed to following Jesus Christ have been affected by this way of thinking to the point that we hardly bat an eye when a couple begins living together outside of marriage. And, although we celebrate the birth of any child, when a child is born out of parents who have not committed themselves to each other publicly before God, family, and friends, instead of being disturbed in our souls, we offer hearty words of congratulations. It is considered unseemly to say anything at all about the less than biblical situation which these new parents have created.
Teachings and ideas and worldviews creep in and like creamed honey and yeast, they not only permeate our lives but they begin to change them. Jesus uses the illustration of the yeast (and he could well have talked about creamed honey) to say that we cannot remain unaffected by the ideas that are all around us.
So, what do we do? We can, and do, trust in the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, and we can ask him to protect our minds and hearts. We should be praying for his protection often. But we do have a responsibility as well. In Matthew 16:6 the NIV translates Jesus words as “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In the Greek, two words are used: “Watch” and “Beware.” These words were often used to describe bringing a ship alongside a dock. Docking a ship is unavoidable; it must be done from time to time. But it is possible to dock the ship without damaging it, which is the whole point. It is impossible for us to create a community that is never touched by the teachings of the world. Even the Amish and Mennonite communities, which can be quite insular, are still affected greatly by the teachings of our world. They do have an added layer or two of separation, but they too live in this world and are impacted by it.
So, we have to follow Jesus’ instruction: watch and beware. If we do not do this, if we do not constantly analyse what we see and hear, chances are very good that we will be caught unawares and be impacted by the world more quickly and more deeply than we could imagine to be possible. We cannot let our guard down.
Jesus did not expect his disciples to avoid any contact with the Pharisees and Sadducees. That would not have been possible. But he did expect them to make themselves aware how and why their teachings were wrong and in so doing be able to put up a defense against them.
Unlike creamed honey or leavened bread, it is not inevitable that we will be changed by what we see and hear around us. With the Holy Spirit working in us, we can avoid what appears to be inevitable by watching and being aware.