Give Us Clean Hearts

By Art Smith of Independence, Missouri, USA

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”  Mark 7:14–15

We often use any excuse to judge others. As I travel to other countries, and make new friends, people confide in me. Often conversation finds its way to judging others.

Jesus bumped into the same problem. If people weren’t keeping themselves busy judging Jesus or his followers, then his own disciples were busy judging someone else. Often we use our own cultural rules and assumptions as a measuring stick to keep ourselves feeling comfortably superior.

Various cultural traditions are beautiful. I love the languages, the dances, and the festivals. I especially love the food! There are many traditions and related rules. Weddings and funerals are rich in regiment. However, if you’re a foreigner it’s not so bad to show up dressed the wrong way, or to sit or stand at the wrong moment, or to mess up and not offer the fitting gift. Locals, however, can be criticized for making the same mistake.

Once someone tried to prove to me what a terrible person another church member was. The person in question had a different ethnic origin than the speaker. When his mother died, they brought her to the church and laid her body out for the wake. After awhile the family went home to sleep, leaving the deceased mother’s body in the deserted sanctuary.

To my friend, whose culture dictated the family stay with the body until burial, this was a travesty and proved to him the person in question lacked moral character.

While culture can be beautiful, we would be well-served to avoid using our own culture to judge others. The cultural differences or slipups may not harm, but our judgments of others might.

Prayer for Peace:

God of grace and understanding, put your nonjudgmental nature on us. Help us remember that we don’t know the reasons and motives of others. Help us accept other cultural practices so we may unite in our diversity, unite for the sake of peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Reflect on God’s call for you. Prayerfully recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come. How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will be mindful of what I might say about another and mindful about thoughts that may cause me to speak negatively.

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1 Comment

  1. JORGE HAZI

     /  2 September 2012

    HOLA ,LES ESCRIBO DESDE MINNESOTA , ME PARECE MUY BUENOS LOS CONTENIDOS DE LAS MEDITACIONES ,PERO DEBIDO A MI POBRE CONOCIMIENTO DEL IDIOMA INGLES ME RESULTA MUY DIFICIL COMPRENDERLOS Y LES PREGUNTO SI TAMBIEN LO EDITAN EN ESPANOL , SI ES ASI LES PIDO ME LOS ENVIEN , TAMBIEN SI ME PUEDEN ENVIAR UN LIBRO DE MORMON Y EL OTRO LIBRO , LAS DOCTRINAS Y LOS CONVENIOS , ,SI LO PUEDEN HACER , LES ENVIARE MI DIRECCION , MUCHAS GRACIAS POR SU TIEMPO , JORGE HAZI . jorgehazi@msn.com

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