Rules won't cut it (2)

February 19, 2018


He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’  (Mark 7:20-23 NIVUK)

Rules won’t cut it (2)

I mentioned last week my confrontation with Jesus’ challenge about what lurks in my inner being to shape my actions and attitudes. His list can feel crushing, but I think he was just being realistic about the need for an invasion of his presence in our being to transform the situation. He knew that we don’t only have the evil lurking but the potential for good as well.

Jesus was impatient with rigorous rules that accomplished nothing. As I meditated on the list of negatives I considered the alternatives – faithfulness in marriage; protection of others’ person, goods and reputation; gratitude; contentedness; desiring the best for the other; joy for another’s possessions, accomplishments and position; keeping and telling truth; humility; wisdom.

We aspire to this but no law can produce it- only spiritual transformation can do it. I have a lot of transforming yet to do. Our culture needs the same. We’ve ceased admiring the good and come to respect power, celebrity and success. Last week I went to my old friend Ambrose for a prayer to help me. Augustine is my go to guy this week. Hope he leads you in expressing your own heart’s desire.

 A Prayer for Today

Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have made us for yourself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in you; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will, no weakness from doing it; but that in your light we may see light clearly, and in your service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 (Augustine: 354-430)