Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Mark 7 1-23

An Activity – Bright Heart

You each need a heart shape, about 5cm wide that is black on one side and silver on the other. You could cut the heart from mirror card and colour the back with a black marker, or you could stick foil to one side of a heart cut from black card.

You also need some squares of tissue paper in various colours. They need to be big enough to make a bag to hold the heart, so 15cm is a good size.

You will also need some sticky tape or glue sticks.

Fold a tissue paper square in half and glue down two sides to make a bag. Decorate the bag with pieces torn from other squares so that it has many colours when you look through it.

Put the heart inside the bag and look at the black side. The bag looks lovely on the outside, but the black heart spoils it. There is no point having the lovely colours on the outside if the heart inside is full of darkness.

Turn to the other side and look at the shiny heart. If your heart is full of light then the colours of the outside show brightly.

A Reflection

Isn’t it funny that you can eat a really delicious meal and yet, if you get sick and yak it back up an hour later it’s foul and disgusting? Same food. Changed. Even if you don’t get sick it’s still rather yukky when it comes out the other end a couple of days later.

You think that’s a bit potty-mouthed for a Bible study? Jesus himself didn’t pull any punches. In verse 18 he explains to the disciples who, as so often, don’t quite get it, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.)” Oh yes, Jesus was talking about poo!

It’s easy enough to take in good stuff; we come to church, we read our Bibles, we pray, we listen to fabulous sermons and even play Christian music in our car on the way home. But somehow, over the hours that follow, the good stuff gets changed as it passes through our innards.

The going to church becomes a self-righteous ‘I’m better than him’ when we see our neighbour washing his car instead.
The reading our Bibles becomes an exercise in head-knowledge without it applying to our hearts.
The praying becomes a shopping list to a vending-machine God who must do our will or suffer our doubts of his power or benevolence.
The fabulous sermons are forgotten or, worse, picked apart over the Sunday lunch favourite of Roast Preacher.
The Christian music, well, that’s OK. We all like a tune you can hum.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these things are bad. I’m not saying we should not go to church or read our Bibles or pray and stuff. But if that’s all we do – just do them, not live them – then we’re missing the whole point of the doing.

We don’t do the right stuff so that we become right with God, It’s the other way around. We become right with God because of Jesus, and out of that right-being grows the right-doing. If it’s clean on the inside, then the outside will be clean too. (OK, I know we’re all works-in-progress  – perfection takes time!)

There’s no point just going through the motions (ha ha, pun intended) of being a Christian if you don’t know Christ. It’ll end up being an empty sham, a salvation-by-works that doesn’t.

We can all look fine on the outside, that’s easy. Keeping the inside clean is sooooooo much harder.

A Prayer

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me. Ps 51:10


Bible Text

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

“This people honours me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.”

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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