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Clean Pots and Dirty Hearts

Daily Reading: Mark 7

Scripture Focus: You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! (Mark 7.9)

Devotional Thought: Tonight, I attended a traditional dance, an opera-style retelling of Hindu myths. It is very attractive to tourists, even if they are being unwittingly “discipled” in Hindu beliefs.

At the beginning and end (and during the especially tense fire-walking portion), a Hindu priest came out and anointed the actors with “holy” water and smoke to “bless” their performance. I was struck at how similar this ritual was to some Christian rituals. This is not the first time I have noticed these similar rituals, having attended religious events for two other world religions.

Some are disturbed by these similarities and attribute them to an idea that “all religions are the same” or human-made. I attribute them to the fact that we are all humans. As humans, we have the tendency to prefer ritual and tradition that we believe brings us closer to God (which we can control), over a heartfelt, genuine relationship with God that we cannot control.

The Pharisees were this way. They had turned the commands of God, designed to define and maintain a healthy relationship with God, into a system of traditions that kept God at bay and them in control (and "super-spiritual," too). Jesus reminded them how far their hearts had drifted from God.

It is easy to become "super-spiritual." Our relationship with God can become a series of boxes to check. It is certainly more comfortable to embrace ritual and habit than to face God. But, coming face-to-face with him is what God wants. He wants us to come vulnerably before him, putting our trust in nothing but his approval alone. To fellowship with God. To sit. To listen. To respond. To obey. Your pots may be clean, but is your heart?

-Joe Young

Prayer: Lord, help us to put nothing before you. Help us to forsake our tendency to control through religiosity and embrace a vibrant, authentic relationship with you. Help us to live in and enjoy your presence, the presence of our loving, Heavenly Father. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 5.7-12

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. 10 Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. 12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

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