Wow, what a busy Sunday we had here this week! We had a bunch of bonus announcements from people (Vanessa League shared about the new family that assistance dog Huffy is now living with, Kristi Christianson shared about the special potluck on the 19th to say “bon voyage” to the Leagues as they move out West, Nena Gullette shared about the upcoming Women Ministry Spring Celebration coming up in Orland Park, etc.), and those were in addition to all of the other announcements that we had to share.
For instance, next Sunday is when we’ll be welcoming in new church members, so please do join us for that if you can. And then on Thursday the 16th, we’ll be having our Trivia Night fundraiser for the upcoming missions trip to Haiti, so please be working now to get your teams together for that. And then there’s the Ladies’ Craft Night on the 31st that you’re all welcome to attend (well, all of you women out there -- I’m gonna stay home and play video games with my son). Oh, and while I’m at it, the Church Rummage Sale has apparently been moved to April 22, because the Neighborhood Garage Sale has suddenly been moved to that date, so please plan your calendars accordingly.
Whew! And that’s all stuff that’s coming up that has nothing to do with the Easter season coming up in April!
In our message this week, we continued the march to Resurrection Sunday as we walk with Jesus through the Gospel of Mark. Looking at chapter 7, we can’t help but be overwhelmed by the repeated themes of “clean” vs. “unclean” and “outside” vs. “inside.”
To the Jews, “clean” and “unclean” had little to do with hygiene, and much to do with spiritual purity. You clean your hands, you clean a cup, you perform rituals, etc., to demonstrate that the gunk of this world has been removed, and that objects or people are now prepared to be involved in the purity of the worship of the Lord. It’s a powerful expression of the inward need to be very conscious and proactive in our holiness before God.
But the Pharisees had turned something that was intended to be an outward expression of inward holiness into an external veneer to hide an internal corruption. God’s regulations about eating or not eating pork, for instance, had never been about the essential uncleanness of pigs, but rather about the need to stop and consider God before you just shove food into your face -- it was never eating the pig itself that made Jewish people unclean, but rather their hearts’ willingness to disregard God’s law in eating it.
So when Jesus saw Pharisees using their clever rules to circumvent God’s laws and being self-righteous about it, He was disgusted by them. And when He saw a Gentile woman being happily willing to accept even the spiritual crumbs that the Jews were letting fall from their table in their ignorance, He was moved by her and encouraging to her. Jesus saw “clean” and “unclean” in very different terms than most of the world did (and, to be honest, than most of us still often do).
Remember: righteousness isn’t what you look like on the outside to those around you -- it’s what you look like on the inside to the God who knows your every thought, attitude, and motivation. It’s a matter of your heart, lived out honestly with your hands and feet and tongue...