Sunday 02 September 2012

Bible Book:

"For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly." (vv. 21-22)

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Sunday 2 September 2012


I have never tired counting the number of times that the Gospelsrecord religious people criticising Jesus, nor how often they tryto catch him out. However, I never tire of reading his responses.It is like watching an extremely accomplished albeit rather unusual(to say the least) political comedian turning the tables onpoliticians and catching them out in their hypocrisy.

The problem is that in enjoying their discomfort we miss, intoday's passage, two stereotypes of Christians (and of us) that arecommonly held in our in society.

The first stereotype is that Christians are anti-Semitic(anti-Jewish). To our disgrace, over the last 2,000 years,Christians have a poor track record in this regard. We have a longhistory of enjoying the discomfort of the Jewish religious groupsat the hands of Jesus and thus justifying appalling behaviourtowards Jews.

The second stereotype is a complete role reversal from thefirst. I suggest that there is a common perception in our societythat Christians cling to tradition while enjoying criticisingothers. In other words, our behaviour is seen by others as beinghypocritical and like the people attacking Jesus for the behaviourof his disciples in this text.

It is, of course, a fairly typical reaction to want to seeourselves in the right and others in the wrong, and we may feelthat both stereotypes are nothing like the way we behave. However,the problem with stereotypes is that they are very difficult tochange.

The words of Jesus suggest an alternative. Instead of trying tochange stereotypical ways others see us, let us consider how weneed to change what is inside us and how that comes out. Jesusappears to think that is more important, so maybe we should too! Atthe end of the day if a popular stereotype of Christians is toodifferent to reality for most people then it will be dropped.

To Ponder

  • In what ways do you see yourself or the Church reinforcingstereotypes?
  • Look back on the last few days and the times when you havenoted the sorts of behaviour Jesus refers to in verses 21-22.Reflect on the balance between the times you see these challengesin yourself or in others.
  • What helps or hinders you in tackling the evil intentionscoming from your heart that Jesus describes?

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