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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Becoming Mr. Clean

Whoa!

We've got a lot to think about! I'd like to hear your responses to today's message. Here's a short synopsis . . .

When confronted by religious-types about his disciples not following the rules, Jesus responds by pointing out the shallow nature of the religious leaders' holiness. He accused them of creating man-made rules as measurements of holiness rather than the commands of God. He accused them of finding loop holes around real holiness. He accused them of boiling holiness down to what we look like and what we do rather than who we are.

Jesus later taught his disciples an overriding principle regarding holiness: it's not what goes in, but what comes out that defiles.

We often blame our sin on external circumstances - the portions were too big, the billboard too sexy, the watercooler friends too ready with juicy gossip. Jesus said that we can't blame what's on the outside; we need to look at our hearts.

Some parts of the message demand talking through, so get your small group in on the discussion, or invite a friend to lunch and thrash it out. Here are some questions to prompt your discussion:
  • Have you thought about holiness in this way before? If not, what was different?
  • We have lots of ways that we bend holiness to make it more comfortable or easier. Where have you seen evidence of this?
  • Have you been guilty of making holiness easier? How?
  • What role does "the world" play in our sin? Can we blame the world for our sin? Is it easier to sin now than it was fifty years ago? Why or why not?
  • How do we become holy?
  • Do you agree or disagree with my statement: "It is possible to be smoke, drink, swear, and dance and be holy"?

Now, about Mark 7:16, the missing verse: the best manuscripts of the early versions of the book of Mark do not include this verse. The verse reads: "If a man has ears to hear, let him hear." Of course, Jesus said this many times. It does seem a little out of place here, but being out of place is not a good reason to remove it. The fact remains that it's just not supported in the best manuscripts, so the NIV just dropped it.

Grace to you!

Pastor Ron

2 comments:

Kendra said...

Your message made my recovering conservative Baptist ears ring with familiarity! The thought that just kept returning to my mind is my experience in attending a Baptist college (and a very conservative one back then) and there was this extreme emphasis on a ton of rules...don't drink, don't smoke, don't play cards, don't go to the movies, don't wear jeans to class(as if Jesus would care about that!), and the list went on and on and on. After hearing you speak, it struck me that not once in my years there did I feel like anyone was truly concerned about WHY I might not want to drink, smoke, etc but only that, as a student at that school, I didn't. Pure external holiness at work (althought I certainly didn't recognize it as such back then). If only they would have emphasized with equal zeal that their students pursue a passionate, ever growing, changing relationship with Christ. After leaving this school, I had to sort through a lot of the "don'ts" and figure them out at a deeper level than "they told me not to." Some I determined I could do and still be pleasing to God and others I chose not to include in my life. But, the important part, as I realize after yesterday, was that it was driven by what or Who is in my heart. Thanks for stirring my memory and for the rich reminder.

Doug said...

In 1 Corinthians 8-11, Paul speaks of Christian liberty. We are free in Christ and no longer bound by the law. If not bound by the law - which was given by God - then we aren't bound by man-made rules. However, our freedom in Christ is limited by our responsibilities in Christ. For example, Paul says I am free to eat meat sacrificed to idols (what are the modern equivalents?) - but only after I consider the impact on my conscience and on my neighbor's consciences. This standard is much more difficult than following a list of "church-made" rules because it requires continually asking if my actions are consistent with loving God and my neighbor.