Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. Mark 7, 14-16.
I’m sometimes ashamed of things I say and have said. Jesus could have been talking about me in these verses because, if you’ve met me at various stages in my life (including sometimes even these days) you might be really, truly shocked to see me writing about Jesus and what He means to me. You might be shocked to find I deeply believe in God and struggle every single day to ‘walk the walk and talk the talk.’ More often than not, I fail at it miserably. Thank God He is good all the time and that He forgave me long ago for being sinful, stupid and Dave.
I remember middle school when I hung out with the other outcast kids in Oklahoma. We used to swear and tell dirty jokes and think we were so grown up and cool. Yeah, that sounds pretty typical (and lame) but I wonder how many kids I turned off with the dumb attitude I wore on my shoulder.
Or as a young man in the Air Force. I once got chewed out by my supervisor for cursing on a recording we made. That F word? One of my favorites. Analysts would be reviewing our recordings and we were supposed to be professional. That time, I was far from professional. In fact, I was just a young punk. I wonder what the analyst who listened to my track thought.
My kids know how to swear; they learned it from me. Mind you, I’m not throwing them under the bus, but if you know them then you know they are earthy, and that they sometimes can let the language fly. They’re adults now; they’re responsible for their own words and actions. But they first learned them from listening to their profane and impulsive father. Now things are worse.
The list goes on and on. When I re-read today’s verses, I can identify with them because Jesus convicts me every time I read them. He could have had me in mind when He first said them…
…in fact, He did. Yes, Jesus did have me in mind when He spoke these words. He knew me even then, just like He knows you now. Don’t forget the context in which He first uttered them: He was responding to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. But He was also talking about what we do with our ‘wrapped around the axle’ moments. Do we learn from them or do we follow through on the evil they hatch? There’s the tongue-twisting phrase from the Apostle Paul that I’ll paraphrase here: the things I don’t want to do (or say), these I keep on doing. That’s me. That’s my dirty mouth and worse. And He forgave it anyway.
The beauty of Scripture is that it’s ALL a story of Jesus. All of it, from the history to the prophecy, is the revelation of Jesus, of God imparting knowledge of Him into our hearts and minds. Hand in hand with that is remembering that I’m forgiven; so are you. Yet there are verses like today’s that, taken on their own, convict and spotlight me and shine a light into dark places I’d rather not see.
Lord, I crave You and Your forgiveness. Forgive my stupid sins and make me clean again.
Read Mark 7, verses 1-23.