“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’… 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 7:15, 18-19
While I was reading the Word, a passage hit me in a new way (don’t you love that?). It was the passage above, in which Jesus is talking to a group of people, and then explaining the parable to His disciples in private. He is telling them about the heart behind the Levitical law; the law God gave Moses back in the Old Testament. In this law, God laid out restrictions on what they should or shouldn’t eat, and eating any ‘unclean’ food would make the person ‘unclean.’ To be unclean meant that you were put out of the camp for a specified amount of days, depending on what you did or ate.
In this passage from Mark, Jesus is declaring all foods ‘clean,’ and removing the restrictions on what God’s people can put in their bellies. He is explaining that God is more focused on a man’s heart than He is on what they eat.
How does this apply to us? That’s exactly what God revealed to me tonight. Let’s go.
Jesus says that it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. Simple enough–you hear a man release a swarm of profanity, you can assume he is ‘unclean’ at the core, but Christians should never swear so that we can remain clean–right?
Let’s assume that Jesus was not purely talking about food when He referred to ‘what goes into a man.’ Think about how many things go ‘into’ you every single day: commercials, television shows, gossip from friends, countless websites, movies, radio, iPods, ethanrenoe.com, speakers, and so on. Now let’s even limit this to what we choose to intake, such as movies, music, and internet, and apply Jesus’ words to them. It’s not listening to that catchy, but kind of dirty, song that makes you unclean; but it’s how that song affects what comes out of you. A Quentin Tarantino film is not unclean, but if you come out of the theatre with anger, violence, and a slew of creative new cuss words, then it has affected what comes out of your heart.
In essence, this is a new way to look at what filter you put on your media intake. If it makes me angry, then to me, it is unclean and should not go into me. If it makes me think about girls in a way that I shouldn’t, then it has no room to weigh in on my thoughts. The list goes on.
It is not the songs on your iPod or the DVD’s on your shelf that are unclean, but it is how those sources effect what comes out of a person that determines their effect. Judge them not by their content necessarily, but by how having them in your life affects you.
In saying all of this, I want to make one thing clear. Not everyone will be affected in the same way by the same things. Therefore, we should never tell someone not to listen to a certain band, or watch certain movies just because we ourselves do not partake. Paul said it best in Romans 14: 13-15:
Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not let your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
Once again, substitute ‘food’ for any kind of media, and see how it works. Kind of cool, huh?
Watch how what you intake affects you; that is the true litmus test of their worth.