Saturday, September 1, 2012

Looking Toward Sunday

September 2, 2012 - Fourteenth Sunday in Pentecost 

"Inside Out"

Our scripture reading for Sunday comes from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is confronted by some Pharisees and scribes about his disciples' failure to perform the expected ritual hand-washing before meals.  (You can read the lesson here.)  Jesus' strong reaction includes a criticism of his own about the Pharisees' religous practices.

Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being hypokrites (the Greek from which we get our word "hypocrites") - meaning "actors".  According to Jesus, they believe they are pure are righteous and faithful because they act pure and righteous and faithful.  But, Jesus says, in reality their hearts are far from God.  Jesus then tells his listeners that purity is something that’s found on the inside, not something that’s created by outward rituals - that clean hearts matter more than clean hands.

Jesus reminds us that we’re to be faithful from the inside out rather than attempting to be faithful from the outside in - that we can't truly "honor God with our lips" unless our "hearts are near to God".  If this week's reading is any indication, Jesus is much less concerned about what we do or avoid doing or pretend to do than what’s genuinely in our hearts - it's less about the motions than the motivation.  

So, what might your Christianity look like if you genuinely practiced it from the inside out?   

See you on Sunday!