germophobe – a person with an extreme fear of germs and an obsession with cleanliness. Some of the religious people of Jesus’ day were spiritual germophobes. Their vigilant concern for ceremonial ‘cleanliness’ led them to careful ritualistic washings, far beyond their concern for hygiene. Their observation of the carelessness of the disciples of Jesus led to quite a discussion in Mark 7.
Jesus tackled the issue head on and confronted their hypocrisy where direct commands of God were overridden by man-made traditions. He pressed on to teach the crowd that had gathered and addressed the core issues on the table.
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”
The disciples did not get the point. Inside the house, away from the crowd they queried him further about this parable. Could their Master be bypassing ceremonial cleansing? Was it really no longer required?
Jesus summarized the essence of His point with two questions and a statement. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean?’ For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” Mark, led by the Holy Spirit, presses home the new reality for those in the new covenant – All foods are now ‘clean.’
He then, a skilled spiritual cardiologist went to the heart of the matter. ‘Uncleanness’ is an issue of the state of one’s heart, of the internal evils over which everyone should be greatly concerned. Eradicating internal ‘spiritual germs’ is a much more necessary and difficult problem, if one was to have fellowship with a holy God.
For from within, out of men’s hearts, …. There is where our attention should be focused. There is where our cleansing must take place. We need a change of heart. What is in men’s hearts?
evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (foolishness.) Here they are – core sin issues, internal, deeply rooted willful rebellion, manifesting themselves through sins of attitudes and appetites which leave lots of consequences when we yield to them.
We may not be ‘germophobes’ – I know some who suggest we all should eat ‘a peck of dirt’ during our lifetime, but becoming ‘spiritual germophobes’ may be evidence of spiritual maturity!