Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. – I Corinthians 5:7

What’s happening in this verse? Why does Paul all of a sudden bring up a baking metaphor? And what’s so special about unleavened bread? In fact, what really is the difference between leavened and unleavened bread? Yes, I had to ask that question, because I know next to nothing about the baking end of the bread industry… my only real experience is in the consumption side of things. What I learned on the interwebs is that leavened bread is the delicious fluffy stuff and unleavened bread is the flat, often tasteless stuff. So, why are we the unleavened bread in this metaphor?

I don’t think that he wants Christians to be less appealing to the world. This is not a call to be boring, tasteless, and dry. I think there is something else going on and I think it has something to do with what makes leavened bread leaven… yeast. Most of the bread that we eat these days has yeast in it. But yeast is actually a single-celled organism that spreads throughout a lump of the dough causing the whole thing to rise. So, quite literally, yeast introduces a living organism into the mix, making the bread change. And not all of the change is good. One of the problems with leavened bread is that it doesn’t last very long. Once yeast gets added to the dough, it has to be cooked within 2 days, and then it can only last 4-5 days after being cooked. After that, it has to be thrown away. However, I found out that certain forms of unleavened Matzo bread can last for 5-10 years when properly stored!!

So, maybe this metaphor makes more sense now. Sin is like an organism that works through a community. Sure, sin might be a little exciting, it might be fluffy and bring some new flavors and tastes, but it will quickly kill a community. However, a community that quickly gets rid of the sin organism can become a source of healthy nourishment for years and years to come! This is who we are called to be! The yeast has been taken out of our lives because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, so let’s be quick to deal with sin whenever we see it. Let’s work hard to make sure that it doesn’t influence the whole lump. Let’s be a new lump!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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