One of my favorite movies is The Breakfast Club. This might be my favorite scene:
The power of other people’s opinions were so strong that these new “friendships” would be set aside on Monday. That’s the power that other people have over us, isn’t it? Don’t we do the same thing in our lives every single day?
Luke relates some teaching of Jesus in the twelfth chapter of his gospel,
In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:1-12 ESV)
This interaction comes right on the heels of Jesus really giving it to the Pharisees and Scribes. One of the key things that he is nailing home at the end of chapter 11 is that these leaders care more about what people think of them than they do about really walking with God.
So, here Jesus refers to this as the “leaven of the Pharisees”, which is hypocrisy. These religious leaders acted one way and did something else in their heart or hearts. They lived this way because of their fear of people.
“Fear” in this context is not some sort of irrational fear, like my wife’s fear of spiders, but a sense of honor and respect. The Pharisees honored and respected people above their honor and respect of God. Jesus doesn’t want his disciples to miss this. God must be the center of worship and reverence, not people.
So what do you “fear” more than God? Who do you”fear” more than God?