Just Like Jesus – Cleaning Up Your Act
Mark Chapter 7 opens with the religious leaders asking Jesus, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" This was much more than why don’t they wash their hands before they eat. This was the “religious thought & culture police” laying down the law. Yes, the Pharisees and Scribes were critical of the disciples but it was a direct rebuke of Jesus Himself. Jesus did not conform to “the traditions of the elders.” He seemingly did not practice the rituals of the “church.” Pastor Ed described an important distinction when he remarked that ritualism is the dead faith of living menwhereas rituals are the living faith of dead men. Jesus is all about real faith in real relationships having a vibrant and personal connection with the One True God first, then second, through our daily lives, with one another – living faith.
Mark Chapter 7 goes on to the story of the Syrophoenician Woman. Here is a woman desperate for help with her daughter. She knows Jesus holds the answer because she knows who Jesus is. But she is not a Jew and far outside the “traditions of the elders.” Yet, she receives what she came for. Her daughter is made well because she came to Jesus. This makes me think how we look upon and treat those who enter our “gates” seeking help, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Many come to GateWay looking for that “something” to fill the empty spot in their hearts. I wonder in the practice of our faith do we demand of seekers they need to clean up their actbefore they can receive Jesus’ grace and mercy. Do we ask conformity to our church culture as a prerequisite for salvation? Do we include them only if they are part of the “in crowd” as determined by race, color, economic level or other external measure forgetting that in comparison to God we are all “dogs?”
Let’s not be as the disciples were in their early walk with Jesus where He remarked, “Are you so lacking in understanding.” In contrast can we be like the Syrophoenician Woman who understood that it is the will of God that all people be saved and know the truth. What are we doing in our personal life and all together in the life of GateWay that fosters knowing Jesus? Let us have rituals that evidence living faith and not ritualism stinking of death.