Monday, December 9, 2013

Getting on God's "Nice List"

By Jessica Fick

In Mark 7, religious teachers called Pharisees were giving Jesus a hard time about his disciples and how they didn’t follow certain rules — rules that the Pharisees had turned into a way of trying to get on God’s nice list.  A list they thought would make their lives perfect, ideal, worshipful to God.

We can do a similar thing this time of year — try to do Christmas “right” — bake cookies for exchanges, host amazing parties, pick out (and ship on time) gifts to loved ones, sing carols with heartfelt adoration of baby Jesus. We may do all of these things because they are on our mental list of what a proper Christmas is supposed to be. God is never impressed by our lists of what we think is right.

In response to the Pharisees Jesus said — “What comes out of you is what defiles you, not what goes into you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile you.”  (Mark 7:20-23)

My heart often has less fa-la-la-la-la and more folly during the month of December.

You know how folly is defined? A lack of good sense. Stupidity. Thoughtlessness. I chase folly this time of year when I overcommit myself, set a “pinteresting” standard for what my Christmas should be like, and then feel sad or guilty when my kids and I end up crying with a strand of burned out Christmas lights at our feet. 

There are so many good parts of the holidays but there are also really difficult emotions and experiences. A lot of things that go unseen but linger and fester in our hearts. They come out in ugly ways like snapping at our kids, gorging on Christmas cookies because we feel alone, insecure or depressed. Overspending because we want our families to know they’re loved. 

Out of the heart come things that defile us. 

Just as he entered the mess of the world, Jesus is able to come into our broken, frantic hearts and make something new.  In our hearts he settles down when we invite him in to show us a different way. Instead of broken relationships with God and others, we can be connected to God, the source of love. Instead of greed he makes us thankful for all that he’s given us. Instead of folly he gives us wisdom to care for ourselves, our relationships and our world.  Jesus is able to lead us. But we need to invite him to do so.

 Put that on your Christmas list.

Jessica lives with her husband and two sons in Cleveland, OH and works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship teaching college students how to talk about Jesus without sounding like creepy robotic salespeople. Follow her blog about evangelism, culture, motherhood and thrift-store adventures at or on twitter @JessicaLeepFick.

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