I always loved Mark 7 until today.
In Mark 7, Jesus fully preaches Isaiah 29 without saying, “Please turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 29.” Have I ever mentioned how much I love Jesus’ preaching style? I love His need-to-know method of discipleship, which I think would cause Him to fail most Homiletics courses in America. I teach a Homiletics course (Homiletics is the study of sermon delivery; it’s a preaching class) and He would pass my class but only because I’m a total softy when it comes to grades and I would definitely toss Jesus an A even though He lacks a certain systematic approach and His tone is sometimes quite harsh. Anyway, Jesus preaches Isaiah 29 and says, “Hypocrites and pretenders! You worship Me with your lips, but your heart is far from Me.” (See? There’s that tone again.)
Now, this is not a new passage to these people, much like Jeremiah 29:11 is not a new passage to…anyone. They would know Isaiah 29 and they would be able to quote it themselves and in fact, they probably have a long list of people this verse applies to. But the new revelation Jesus offers in this moment is: You’re the people Isaiah was talking to about! You are the pretenders. It’s like the big reveal in a whodunnit movie and I often want to clap my hands and say, “Go get ’em, Jesus!” So, I’ve always loved it.
Until this morning. Because this morning, I read it through once and something bothered me. A memory; vague and undefined, but simmering like a pot on the back of the stove. I read it again and the memory took shape and called in some friends. Not just one just one memory, but several.
- One time recently when right before worship started, someone tapped me on the shoulder and explained to me how much he and his friends hated when women speak at church.
- One time when someone approached me on the way into a service and told me something that frustrated them about one of my kids.
- Many times – many, many times – when the music started and I clinched my teeth because, “I am so sick of that song,” or “why are the drums so loud this morning” or “I don’t think that person is ready to be on the worship team yet.”
And while massaging all these toxic thoughts, I also engaged in worship. I sang the songs. I did the dance. I played the part. But my heart was far from Him – and not just far from worshiping Him, far from loving like Him. Far from thinking like Him. Far.
I used to love this verse. But now I get it.
Really wanting to be real,