Thursday, July 28, 2011
Again, Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather, it is what comes out of you that defiles you."
Jesus is making clear, once again, the difference between man-imposed restrictions and God's rules. The Pharisees have accused the disciples of eating with unclean hands and the Lord defends their actions. He goes on to declare all foods permissible for consumption as they enter the stomach and pass through the digestive system. It is, rather, the sins of the human heart that defile us, that render us "unclean" and separate us from the love of God.
The list of sins articulated by Jesus in Mark 7:21-22 is formidable. I would venture to say that all of you reading this are guilty of one or more of them at some point in your life. I am no exception. The crucial matter for us as Christians is to recognize the sin, repent, ask forgiveness from God for our shortcomings, and shine the light of hope and redemption to others. Too often, we fail to admit our sins, choosing instead to wear that plastic smile to church every Sunday, striving to convince others of our better-than-thou piety, afraid to allow anyone to see our broken and bleeding hearts. How can we possibly bring others to the saving grace of Christ if we are unwilling to go there ourselves? We can't; our hypocrisy about our own failures defeats us in the end.
Are you donning that artificial smile every Sunday? Are you, like the Pharisees, judging others before addressing your own issues? Take a good, long look in the mirror. See that face? Know that it and you are so loved by God! He is prepared to forgive every sin, every error in your ways, but you have to take the first step. Confess and be cleansed!
"Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain?
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken,
Maybe, then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade." ~ Casting Crowns
Psalms (70), 71 or 74
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