What's Inside Counts Too!
Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees that outer appearances don’t matter as much as what’s within - Yr. B, 15th Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 (NIV)
How many of you have ever gone to the dentist? (ask for a show of hands) Ask the children what happens at the dentist’s office. Affirm that the dentist checks their teeth, cleans their teeth, and may apply sealants. Then show the children a dental x-ray. Ask them what it is. Probably at least some of the children will know that x-rays are taken to see if the teeth have any hidden cavities. Talk about how teeth can have decay that isn’t noticeable on the outside, where everything can look fine, but if we don’t fix the cavity, more problems can occur.
Now talk with the children about how we can look fine from the outside but our heart is not pure. We can hide feelings in our heart make Jesus sad, like wanting what other people have (envy or jealousy), like thinking we are better than others (pride), or wanting harm to come to other people (hate). Explain that Jesus knows what is in our hearts, and that if we have feelings like this, he wants to help us to become pure again, like we were when we were baptized. Let the children know that it is better to deal with our feelings when the problems are small (like little cavities) than to wait until the problems are bigger (like having to pull the tooth because the cavity is just too big).
Let the children know that Jesus doesn’t want anything to separate us from him. He wants us to stick by him closer than a brother. Jesus gives us parents and our church and the Bible to help us to remain pure and to get our feelings and thoughts right with God. When our feelings are not pure, we get far away from God and this causes us to be sad, and even causes God to be sad.
Dear Jesus, thank you for knowing us as we really are, on the inside as well as on the outside, and loving us anyway. Help us to want to know you more and to love others as much as we love ourselves. Give us thankfulness for our blessings and help us to love and help others who could use our help. Amen.