Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Heart of the Matter - Mark 7

The Pharisees gave Jesus the perfect opportunity to speak to the very heart, so to speak, of his message. They were upset that Jesus' disciples didn't do pray on their knees with their eyes closed. Or close their eyes. Or go to church every week. Or go forward on Sundays. Or sing hymns. Or choruses. Or abstain from alcohol. Or vote Republican. Or, in short, do ANYTHING they were supposed to do, had been taught to do, were EXPECTED to do.

Neither I (nor Jesus) have anything against hygiene or any of those other practices. In fact I am or have been a habitual practioner of most of the above.


They are not what God commands. And Jesus from his heart wants us to know the commandments of God and obey them from the heart. You can sense His intensity. It's as if he has been given the perfect opportunity to say something so simple, yet so difficult to receive and practice.

Jesus said, "I want your heart. I want you to search out, learn, know and obey my commands, and the commands of my Father. Where this happens, the Kingdom is."

The historic forms of the Christian religion fails utterly at this. I think of some of the Catholics I grew up with, and the southern churchfolk I've heard about, who would sin on Saturday night and show up clean and sober Sunday morning, seeking forgiveness.  When we stop seeking to obey God with their whole hearts, the form loses its power and ceases to matter much. If Jesus preaches any "universalist" truth, it is that all forms of worship so practiced lead AWAY from God. 

So that's what I mustn't do. What must I do?

"Rend your hearts, and not your garments, turn unto the Lord Your God, He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness."

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