Into My Heart
Ben Smith of Tootgarook, Victoria, Australia
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.”…For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” -Mark 7:14-15, 21-23
I was standing in front of a group, about to rightfully interpret scripture and deliver my message because this was my role as a white, middle-class man who had grown up in the church. I paused. I thought I had read the scripture correctly, done my research, and was about to convey the perfect analogy for how to be a good disciple.
Then, a realization hit me. The people I was facing were the people in the scripture. They were the people Jesus was eating with who had been oppressed by the leaders of the day and were outcast by their very own society. At that point my role shifted from teacher to learner.
Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself when it comes to living out the principles of the church. I forget how to live like Jesus has taught us. I talk with people about how important the sacraments are, how to practice them correctly, and in doing so forget their purpose-to bring us closer to God and each other. Often we get caught up with the “how” of our practices. But upon reflection, it is experiencing the “what” that counts the most.
As I began my message to those people, I realized all I needed to do was reflect the importance of being real, authentic individuals who look into the hearts of others and love without reservation. I could get caught up in past actions, talk about how important it was to repent the injustices of yesterday. However, in doing so I would be “holding on to human traditions” and not remembering the teachings of Jesus (Mark 7:8). Forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love: these are the elements of the gospel that bring us closer to the kingdom we seek.
“Be vulnerable to divine grace” (Doctrine and Covenants Section 163:10b).
This month, spend time each day noticing where divine grace is already pouring forth. Perhaps it is a simple awareness of creation’s systems and cycles that support our daily existence. The sun rises each day without being asked. There are underlying rhythms and relationships that hold the fabric of our lives together. Sometimes they fall into the background of our lives. We forget to see the natural generosity that spills over throughout our days-of the planet, the people we love, the Sacred Presence in all moments, the kindness of strangers we encounter, and the gifts we carry within. What is already being given in your life? What does it look like to be vulnerable to divine grace today?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.