top of page
  • Willow Feller

Bad Blood in our Bread...And in Our Ice Cream

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:6 (KJV)

Most of the time, I use either the NLT or the NIV version for my bible study, but every once in a while I go back to the King James Version to read familiar passages. I used the KJV solely for a decade after becoming a Christian, but then migrated to reading more modern versions later on.

Yet, the lyrical nature of the KJV's Shakespearean-era language easily lends itself to scripture memorization and so I find myself quoting it often. It is also a bit quirky in its presentation of metaphors. I always smile when I read the above passage in the KJV version: "...a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump..."

The NIV rendering isn't nearly as illustrative: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

I actually prefer using the word "lump" here. Some words are just more picturesque than others. Shakespeare certainly knew that, and his plays, written during the time King James authorized his 1611 translation of the bible, reflect this shared vernacular.

The leaven Paul was referring to was a specific type of sin that the church was turning a blind eye to in their midst. He uses the same metaphor in Galatians 5:9 to describe the way a false legalistic teaching was spreading through the Galatian church and restricting the believers' freedom in worship. Like the introduction of yeast to a lump of dough, both the sin and the teaching were spreading throughout their belief system, and not in a good way.

Kind of like the way in which one tiny drop of blood threatens to ruin a whole batch of homemade ice cream.


Yes, blood in ice cream. I am ashamed to admit I did that once. I cut my finger while slicing strawberries directly into the ice cream maker container and realized, too late, that a drop of my blood dripped into the mixture along with the strawberry slices.

That moment posed a true moral dilemma to me. The blood was basically the color of the berries, and it was only one drop, so really now, nobody had to know, right? Except...there was a witness. My brother, Miles.

We were visiting at my parents' house for a summer reunion and Mom thought it was a great time to use the electric ice cream maker that my brother had gifted our parents with earlier. With the house full of extended family members, I pitched in to help. We set the maker up on the kitchen table around which a group, including Miles, was sitting. The loud talking, laughing and flailing hand gesturing, typical for our family, served as the backdrop for my sudden and weighty dilemma.

I grabbed a napkin to wrap around my finger and looked up at Miles across from me. He was the only one that saw the bloodletting. Wordlessly, we locked eyes for a full two seconds before he glanced down at the ice cream and then back up at me. I read his mind in the way that only a person raised in the exact same home, by the exact same parents, with almost exactly the same DNA quirks can know what their sibling is thinking.

What are you going to do? His eyes asked.

Um, not sure, my eyes answered.

We both knew that throwing the ice cream out wasn't an easy option. Mom was counting on this to be the main dessert for the crowd and everyone was looking forward to taste-testing it. Living five miles away from the nearest convenience store and a full twelve miles away from a better-stocked grocery store meant that a trip to buy more ingredients would upset Mom's crowd feeding schedule.

Is one tiny drop of blood really that big a deal if no one knows it's even in there? I continued looking at Miles. He shrugged his shoulders and pursed his lips. I heard clearly what that body language said. It's your call, sis.

My quandary played out in my mind at the speed of light as the voices in my head debated each other.

No one will ever know--Miles isn't going to tattle. Just serve the stupid ice cream.

No, don't! You'd have a fit if you knew someone bled in your food and didn't tell you! Do unto others...

Well, this isn't a hazmat situation--it's not like you have Ebola or something. You have healthy blood.

That's not the point! And what if I do have an undiagnosed blood borne infection? Huh? What then?

I looked down at the creamy mixture in the open freezer canister. All I had to do was press the power button to start the swirling motion and the blood drop would mix in and dilute to a level of perhaps a molecular fraction of an innocuous cell per eater. That won't hurt anyone.

Yet, as the Queen of Vacillation, I pulled back, sensing guilt standing ready to move in on me like a skunk cornering a hen in the chicken house.

Miles continued to stare at me as I looked down at my strawberry shame. That's when I noticed that the blood drop was more orangey than the strawberries. I immediately seized on that middle ground option and let Miles witness me spoon the spot out and put it on a napkin. There, no one's the wiser.

But Miles was. Even though he's my younger brother, he's always been wiser than me. Certainly, wise enough to pass on dessert that day.


So, even though I pulled out the visible part of my blood drop from the ice cream, do you think there still might have been some left? Considering there are approximately five million red bloods cells in a single drop of blood, I'm ashamed to say most likely.

Let's play with Paul's metaphor (which he borrowed from Jesus, by the way) in the NIV Galatians verse for a moment. My personal version would read, “A little blood works through the whole batch of ice cream.”

What does the blood represent? In real life, the introduction of blood into a community food was a mere accident. I didn't intend to harm anyone at all. It was my response that ushered in the possibility of culpability. My failure to whip up a cleaner batch of ice cream sprang from self protection. I chose to protect myself--my convenience and my reputation--more than I chose to protect the others through proper kitchen sanitary practices.

And the moment the blood drop hit the ice cream, there was no going to back to a pre-contaminated state. At a cellular level, there would be no way to completely eradicate every single trace of the unintended substance.

I believe that type of community spread was the picture Jesus intended to paint when he used the leaven metaphor as recorded several times in his teaching. He pointed out both the positive and negative types of leaven infusion when, on one occasion, he stated that the Kingdom of God is "like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough," (Luke 13:21 NLT) but on other occasions he told his disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Herod.

Apparently, there is good yeast and there is bad yeast. The good represents the truth of the Kingdom of God--the spiritual realm that Jesus brought introduced on earth and infuses the hearts and minds of those who believe in him. Jesus specifically identifies the bad yeast in Luke 12:1 when he says, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees--their hypocrisy."

So then, hypocrisy, defined as "a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess" is a toxic type of deception and the opposite of the truth. When Jesus referred to the yeast of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Herod, he was pointing out how the motive behind their religious leadership had devolved from true worship of God into an idolatrous form of political maneuverings.

In other words, the leaders had abandoned their original duty to point people to their need for God’s spiritual salvation and instead created their own lucrative job description. It became a physical duty that coerced people to support physical policies. Policies that merely addressed outside behavior and had no power to promote heart change in their society.

This deceptive and political bad blood had quietly infected the entire religious system and blinded the leaders to their own spiritual depravity. Their insistence on politics as the only way that God would save their nation caused them to completely miss the fact that their hearts contained the same sin their enemies possessed.

As those leaders moved farther and farther away from their trust in God, they lost sight of the meaning behind the symbols contained within their own temple. The politicizing of their worship infected the Bread of Presence loaves and turned them into the Bread of Politics loaves. This sickly bread contained none of the life-giving love of Christ. It was no more nutritious than a batch of sugary ice cream.

Ice cream alone can’t sustain a body forever. Eventually, the Pharisees would become weakened, easy targets and get annihilated by the very enemies they thought they were appeasing.

Unfortunately, they would take a whole lot of innocent followers with them.


Like those ancient Jews, as I moved farther and farther away from my trust in God, I lost sight of His presence in my life, too. First doubt, then fear, began to creep in to my faith, causing me to become highly susceptible to Politicism.

There's healthy fear, and there's unhealthy fear. Having a healthy fear of dangerous things spurs us to protect ourselves accordingly. But irrational fear can damage many aspects of our lives.

My fear of having the wrong political party in power in America became the trans fat in my faith diet--the thing that built up inside the channels through which the Spirit flows to my heart. This fear caused me to consume a larger amount of news from the outside realm than I did of the Good News from the unseen realm.

Like a person whose diet consists solely of bacon dipped in mayonnaise and doughnuts coated in canned frosting, I was on my way to a heart attack--a spiritual heart attack triggered by the fear my Politicism had opened the door to.

And once that door opened a crack, there were plenty of Politicism-infected Christian leaders to hold it open for me. For all of us, really.

Yet, thank goodness there are still plenty of Christians who quietly walk past that open door and stay on the path of common-sensical consumption.

I'm learning to follow them instead.



All Posts

bottom of page