Musing on Mark 7, 1 to 8 then 14 to 15 and 21 to 23

Facing the truth of our true selves

I don’t know about you, but I know I can be really good at finding excuses for not challenging my less-than-perfect behaviour. I too find it easy to slip into doing, thinking, saying as everyone else does, fitting in to the culture of our social circle and times. It was no different in Jesus day. People thought that conforming to the religious practices and cultural norms of the times kept them in Gods favour (v8). In this weeks passage we have Jesus telling them (and us) that they were wrong.

We all like to wear a metaphorical mask to hide who we truly are, so as not to reveal our inner thoughts – even from those with whom we are most intimate (the wearing of masks in Greek theatre is the origin of our word hypocrite). The hard truth is that Jesus sees right through the mask and knows what we’re thinking. This, I find, is truly frightening as I know that if my inner thoughts are revealed, the permissions I give myself to allow my thoughts to roam down inappropriate pathways and the excuses I make for doing so exposed, I’d be disqualified from family, society, church and heaven. Praise God that my belief and trust in Jesus saves me from exclusion from the life to come, though if I truly believe then I cannot sit on my laurels but must continue the fight to keep these thoughts in check (see what Paul says in Romans 8,5 to 13)

You can read of one mans confession of his internal struggles in Romans 7,18 to 21.

Why did God create us like this?

I guess because only this way can we be completely free to choose our own path in our faith life.

This passage gives us an insight into what truly is sin. Jesus is reminding us that sin isn’t wrong actions or words or even wrong thoughts. Sin is the wrong attitudes behind our ‘thought word and deed’ as the BCP confession puts it. Have a look at verses 21 to 23. What’s the common factor? Jesus calls them ‘evil intentions’. To me the common factor is that, if these thoughts become actions, they are all abusive to another person. They all contravene Jesus command to love our neighbour. They all defile us.

Only Jesus can wash us clean – if we confess our sins. Do you find rattling through a general confession on a Sunday adequate? Jesus quoting Isiah 29, 13 is a warning against ‘going through the motions’ in our worship, especially our confession.

Perhaps we need to find quiet places where, with Jesus, and surrounded by his unfailing love, we can face who we really are.