Tuesday- Day 18
Mark 7:14-23 (Comments on Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright)
Jesus tells the crowd in this passage that there is nothing that can go into a person from the outside that will make them unclean. Jesus is referring to the Jewish food laws that he and the disciples chose not to follow. Wright refers to the food laws as signposts. The food laws helped to make the Jews a distinctive people set apart from their pagan neighbors, the Gentiles. They followed the food laws because they sought to live upright and pure lives for God. Jesus does not take them to task for wanting to live pure lives. One of Jesus' beatitudes is "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." The real obstacle of living in purity according to Jesus is not what goes into us, but what comes out of us from within our hearts. Evil intentions such as greed, slander, envy, pride, adultery come from within our hearts and this is what makes us unclean in God's eyes.
Jesus did not provide us a laundry list of evil intentions just to keep us languishing in guilt. His life, death, and resurrection suggests that he Purity; he is the one who can not only put to death those forces that keep us from embracing life, but he is the one who brings us the fullness of that life we so much desire. Personally, I don't have a problem with signposts in our faith. To the extent that the spiritual practices can focus our hearts upon God and help us to turn towards God, I believe they are helpful. Problems occur when we consciously or unconsciously substitute those signposts towards living a godlike life with Purity itself. God is the one who ultimately sustains and strengthens us and transforms us spiritually from the inside out through His Son, Jesus.