Image is everything. Well, that's certainly the message we receive from much of the world. It's not so much what's inside as long as the outside looks good. Our culture is obsessed with appearance and we are all too happy to fall in line. Many times our actions in the world reflect this same way of thinking. We do certain things to "look" one way, while our hearts and actions tell a different story. Sometimes, we won't try new things or risk new experiences, relationships or kindness to the "other" for fear of the way it will make us look. Of course, we do this while professing our love for and relationship with God. This outside/inside tension runs through today's reading from Romans.
When I read this section, I can't help thinking about Ezekiel chapter three when the prophet takes the scroll representing the word of God and eats it. The word according to the prophet "tastes as sweet as honey." (Ezek. 3:3). The prophet shows us that it's not enough to know or possess the word-it must be a part of us. It's not what's on the outside or what we say, but, rather what is on the inside and what we do.
Paul says the same thing to the Romans as he discusses what it means to be a faithful Jew. Paul found some Jews who assumed their place in God's favor because of their birth and knowledge of the law. They told the world how much they loved God, but their heart and actions revealed something else. Paul turns circumcision, an outward sign for a Jew of being a child of the Abrahamic covenant, on its ear when he says that "real circumcision is a matter of the heart." (Rom. 2:29). When something is part of the heart, we bring it to everything we do and all that we are.
The Ten Commandments controversy mentioned yesterday is applicable here too. God doesn't want or need the Word written on monuments in rotunda's that serve to prove to humanity how much we love God. God wants the Word on our heart so that we bring God's word into our whole life. "Such a person receives praise not from others but from God." (Rom. 2:29).
A few questions: How is God's Word written on your heart? What does that mean to you? How do we say one thing and do another in life? How does this impact our walk with God?