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Friday, August 9, 2013

Think About It

Outward Conformity

Jesus stated “What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean”, Mark 7:20. Yet the Jews of that day had numerous laws and practices that were practiced to make themselves clean. They often prided themselves on their performance on this outward conformity to their rules, laws and regulations. The problem, as Jesus so rightly pointed out, you can make something look good on the outside, but that doesn’t make things different on the inside.

We can bring a lot of pressure upon people to change their outward behavior. Through laws and consequences, we attempt to influence societal change and then wonder why things aren’t getting better. People express remorse for behavior and promise to change, but never do. The problem is that that outward change can never be sustained without an inward transformation.

The religion of Jesus day is no different that what we have today. We somehow equate the idea that if I do all of the right things, outward conformity, that somehow I will be okay. Some even believe that if they do enough good outwardly that what they are inwardly will somehow be canceled. It goes along with the idea that God grades with a set of scales. If your good out weighs the bad then you’re acceptable to him. But that’s not what the Scriptures teach. Actually, Jesus taught a simple truth, it’s called being born again. That’s what he told Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, understood on some level that what he was doing wasn’t meeting the mark. Jesus quickly pointed out that it was about an inward change, not an outward conformity that made us acceptable.

Sadly, many go through life holding on to hurts, resentments, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Try as they might, who and what they are will never change until they address those inner issues. One cannot change when they are holding on to something else. We tend to hold on to what’s familiar; change becomes almost an impossible task because we’re clinging so hard to what we already know. Real freedom comes when we let go. Think about it.

(bjknef@yahoo.com)

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