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The Great Physician failed anatomy class

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Of all the “terrible advice” of Jesus we have looked at this month – this has to be toward the top of the list.  For one who is supposedly the “great” physician, one would think He would at least know how the body works.  Evaluate this advice (Matthew 15:19-20):

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” 

In an age obsessed with weight, appearance, diet, and health, Jesus suggests something I have never heard from a doctor – worry more about your thoughts than what goes into your body.  That is just the beginning of why this advice is so terrible.  He also suggests our evil thoughts don’t begin in our minds but in our hearts!  Am I crazy to think that I think thoughts in my head? 

Jesus seems to have two strikes:

  • Aren’t we are supposed to be hyper-conscious of our bodies and what we consume?
  • Don’t our thoughts come from our minds?

These are obvious contradictions to our modern culture, values, and way of thinking.

Jesus challenges not only our culture, but he challenges us.  Do we believe what happens on the inside of us matters more than the outside?  Are evil, negative or sinful thoughts something I can just “stop thinking” in my mind?

Jesus is never content to let his followers stay comfortable.  He wants us to move toward Him and grow in holiness.  This is His goal, and His “terrible advice” is only terrible if one does not want to be like Him. 

Jesus may have failed anatomy 101, but he is correct on this.  Of course, we think thoughts in our heads, but the desires and impulses that drive us come from our hearts.  The good and evil, the wise and unwise – we are driven by the desires of our hearts and our minds simply follow suit.  If that is scary, join the club.  Where is your heart today?  What thoughts are flowing from it?  Whatever is happening inside of it does not scare the great physician.  He is the only physician who can successfully perform open heart surgery without an operating room or a scalpel. 

As we turn to Jesus and seek to follow His ways and His advice, we will need new hearts.  New hearts lead to new minds and new minds give us eyes to see His ways among a culture that is constantly screaming at us to do the opposite of what Jesus wants.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

Ezekiel 36:26

Practicing Resurrection

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“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute … Give your approval to all you cannot understand … Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years … Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts … Practice resurrection.”
 - The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry

I’m turning these words of Wendell Berry over in my head, over and over again and then going back to Jesus’ words from John 12, “The man who loves his life will lose it…” and I get this puff of air caught somewhere in my chest. It’s full of what is hard to stomach about this terrible advice I hold as truth. It’s full of hesitation of what I know I should do and all I want instead.

But I go back to these words of Jesus and Berry and wonder again and again at the freedom that lies here.

I see not everything has to make sense to me. I see what seems like foolishness, is actually worth living for. The loss of all that want frees me to grow into who I was intended to be.

To not understand, but sink down into fertile soil because that is the way to eternal life, is an adventure.

To consider all I know (and it’s not as much as I think), to follow Christ anyway into the resurrected life, can seem like failure to a world that clings to facts, to knowledge, to what is seen. But as Berry suggests, I can laugh. And as Christ declares, God’s name will be glorified.

So how will I live? In the safe world of facts and the fearsome world of opinion?

No – live like a wheat seed, sacrificially covered in the rich goodness of truth, waiting for the promise of something it cannot see. Refuse to live a life all for yourself, unsure of what you will look like, how much fruit may come or how you will benefit, not paralyzed by fear– live a transformed and resurrected life, live for the One, live to declare the glory of our God.

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