Summary: A call to be genuine Christfollowers
It’s all in your Heart
A heavily booked commercial flight out of Denver was canceled, and a single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the front and slapped his ticket down on the counter. "I have to be on this flight and it has to be first class!" he insisted. "I’m sorry, sir," the agent replied. "I’ll be happy to help you, but I have to take care of these folks first." The passenger was unimpressed. "Do you have any idea who I am?" he demanded in a voice loud enough for the passengers behind him to hear. Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and picked up her public-address microphone. "May I have your attention, please?" she broadcast throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at the gate who does not know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate." As the man retreated, the people in the terminal burst into applause.
I have a question for you this morning on this Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By next week we will be talking about Christmas and the holiday season, the birth of Christ and what it needs to mean in your life, but before we go there we need to deal with this question. Do you really know who you are?
We tend to judge ourselves by how everyone else perceives us. What kind of an impression we are making on those around us. People are driven by this, especially in our country. Most people have this deep need to conform to our culture. I touched on this recently when I asked who you were taking your clues from on how you live your life.
You see, what you are on the outside is really not all that important. Whatever you are in your heart is what you are going to be on the outside. It is what is going to come out in your life. You can’t hide it because that is who you are.
I want to tell you a story from the life of Jesus today. It is found in Mark 7:1-23.
“The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. 2They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. 3The Pharisees--Jews in general, in fact--would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, 4with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans). 5The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, "Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?"
6Jesus answered, "Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. 7They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, 8Ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads."
9He went on, "Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions! 10Moses said, "Respect your father and mother,’ and, "Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ 11But you weasel out of that by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to say to father or mother, "Gift! What I owed you I’ve given as a gift to God,’ 12thus relieving yourselves of obligation to father or mother. 13You scratch out God’s Word and scrawl a whim in its place. You do a lot of things like this." 14Jesus called the crowd together again and said, "Listen now, all of you--take this to heart. 15It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit--that’s the real pollution."
17When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, "We don’t get it. Put it in plain language."
18Jesus said, "Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? 19It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed." (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)
20He went on: "It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: 21obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness-- 23all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution." Mark 7:1-23
This teaching is directed at people in Jesus day who were most entrenched in the church and a system of rules that were man made. They had long ago marginalized the commands of God in favor of their own way. Following man-made rules will take you away from the teachings of Christ.