The weather folks are predicting that it is going to be very hot in this part of the country for the the next few days. I don't thrive well in the heat, unless I am in the ocean - or some other body of water. When the temperature goes up, I always think about escaping to the beach.
I think that is true for many of us. When the temperature, whether in measurable degrees or in stress and relationship factors rises to a critical height, we want to escape to a cooler, more responsive place. We want out of the heat and pressure - it's only natural. And although there are folks who thrive under extreme pressure, they are few and far between. I'm not one of those folks.
In the beginning of chapter 15 in Matthew, the heat is on. The Pharisees and scribes, the institutional religious leaders of the day, were challenging Jesus. They were applying the heat, big time. His disciples weren't going by the traditional rules concerning food and the authorities were very angry. Jesus reminded them that " what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this is what defiles." The heat was on but Jesus reminded them that their life was connected to him through the heart - through their willingness to love God and do justice, serving the poor, the outcast and bringing hope to the dark, excluded corners of the world.
Our lifeline is the knowledge that in Christ we have been redeemed and given the charge of carrying God's love in action to the world. Our work and faithfulness might draw some heat at times. Others might choose to make judgments about our Christian orthodoxy. But our lifeline is the heart of Christ, moving through us, calling us to serve those who the world has rejected, judged, and turned away. Our lifeline is Christ, and the knowledge that if we are serving Christ, with pure hearts, the heat, no anything else can destroy us.
May we pray today for those who have no shelter from the extremes of heat and government. Pray for those who faithfully reach out to the excluded. They too are our lifeline to God.