Friday, November 11, 2011

Cleaning from the Inside

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.  --Matthew 23:25-26 (KJV)
The 23rd chapter of Matthew is filled with "woe unto you" phrases aimed at the Pharisees.  This particular woe-unto-you couplet has advice for us - namely how to change our lives.  True change needs to happen from the inside out.  Change can't happen from polishing up our exteriors, putting on a fine suit of clothes and a spot of makeup.  Change must come from the inside, mending a tarnished, excessive, selfish heart.  Napoleon is said to have said, "Only people of the Spirit actually change things, the rest of us just rearrange them."  Fixing what is wrong with our lives and mending our hearts does not happen through our own hard work, it is a Spirit movement.  To attempt change only under our own powers will only superficially rearrange how we think of ourselves, not actually transform our thinking.  Life engaged with the Spirit is transformational; self-help does nothing.  

Cleaning the inside of our cup and platter requires connections with the cloud of witnesses -- living and dead -- who have themselves found the hope that sustains and the wisdom that unlocks the holy insight to clean up our act and move into the Spirit's calling.  Are you a person of the Spirit in whom transformational change can occur?  The only means of becoming one of these people is through prayer for openness, and encounters with the Holy Spirit through a meaningful interaction with a faith community that speaks directly and powerfully to your heart.  This faith community may well be something different from one with which you have always participated.  I encourage you to explore the possibilities for deepening your spiritual life, and stay with the faith journey that God has laid out for you.

God of our past, our present, and our future pull on our heart strings to draw us nearer to you.  Infuse the cracked and tarnished vessels of our spirits with the interior mending and cleaning of your Spirit; showing us the transformed life that is ours through your son, Jesus Christ, for it is in his name we pray.  Amen.

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