Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23; Big Brother IS Watching (8-30-15)

By the Rev. Bob Gochenour

“1984”

I read this classic science fiction novel by George Orwell when I was in James Wood High School in the mid 1970’s. Orwell wrote this classic story in 1949 of a fearful future.

The book is set in London, where BIG BROTHER is always watching you and the all powerful THOUGHT POLICE can read your mind.

The main character, Winston, is a threat to the status quo.

He is a threat because his memory still functions.

He understands that the PARTY controls the official image of the world—and that this image is a fluid fiction.

He knows that the PARTY controls all people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization.

He knows that the worst policy of the PARTY: they alienate individuals from each other and prevent community.

1984 has come and gone!

But the vision that Orwell saw over 60 years ago is real!

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!

In many cities, this means that you will get a speeding ticket without being stopped.

You have seen the cameras mounted on the stoplights at almost every intersection in the city.

You might not even know that you were caught until you get the ticket in the mail.

Some people are fighting back—

Like the guy who got a speeding ticket along with a photo of his license plate. Instead of paying the fine, he mailed a photo of his personal check.

Sometimes, this new technology intrudes on our privacy:

Images, personal information, transactions, even every computer stroke can be sent all over the world without your knowledge.

Some are afraid of this technology—misuse is a threat.

As one who has been a victim of identity theft, I understand the reluctance to use modern technology.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING!

True to Orwell’s predictions, Cameras have been placed in business centers, major intersections, neighborhoods, 2 to 3 cameras per block, putting all citizens under constant surveillance.

You literally will be recorded by 2-3 cameras all day long.

Some people are welcoming BIG BROTHER with open arms.

Sometimes, this new technology is very useful:

Parents can now monitor their children at daycare, preschool, public school via smart phones, chips, computers.

The media is show casing these themes in various TV shows:

Big Brother—cameras in every room of the house detail the behavior of contestants in this reality show.

Person of Interest—cameras suggest the future criminal behavior of persons in a large city.

Restaurant Stakeout—a successful restaurant owner helps failing restaurant owners by installing secret cameras and secretly watching the shenanigans of the staff.

These shows seem to be preaching a subtle message:

It’s OK to lose your privacy.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING!

It seems to be working.

Camera surveillance is reducing crime.

Webcams placed in strategic positions put people on their best behavior.

No matter how they might be feeling, no matter what they may be thinking—the camera makes their behavior accessible for public viewing and evaluation.

It seems like a sure-fire way to create/well-behaved society.

If it works! What can be wrong with this???

GOD SAYS: “NOT SO FAST!”

Outward behavior does not reflect inward character.

When the cameras are not rolling—we are more likely to drop the role we have been playing and just be ourselves.

God wants us to go deeper—demonstrate real change!

Jesus said:

 

15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

 

The Pharisees were playing to the wrong cameras.

They were playing to the web-cams of their generation: they demonstrated their piety before the crowds in order to gain their respect and admiration.

They made great public demonstrations of ritual cleansing, washing their hands multiple times a day as an act of holiness—playing to the favor of the crowds.

Their hands were not dirty—they did it to make themselves look more holy/righteous/pious in the eyes of the public.

Their righteousness was a show—a scripted screen play.

Their holiness was a political image—created by campaign handlers who knew how to manipulate the people.

Their piety was superficial—forged to get the maximum positive effect from the people they served.

Jesus saw through their phony piety:

6He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

We have many Pharisees in our world today.

People who believe form is more important than function;

People who think style is more important than substance;

People who think IMAGE is everything;

People who are playing to the cameras—whether they are electronic or human eyes.

Jesus says: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!

BIG BROTHER IS GOD! GOD SEES EVERYTHING YOU DO!

God is the ultimate webcam—an all seeing camera perched in the heavenlies.

God is the Almighty One watching our every move.

I sometimes get tickled at church members.

I might walk by and they say something like this:

“Straighten up, the preacher is coming.”

It’s like they believe that they have to stop cussing, gossiping, griping, complaining, mis-behaving because the preacher is within earshot and might hear what is said.

I get tickled because they are playing to the wrong camera.

God is already listening to everything they are saying—God is your ultimate judge, not me!

JESUS SAYS YOU ARE ACTING FOR THE WRONG CAMERA!

You need to change your behavior/attitude for God!

Jesus re-defines what it means to be HOLY.

It means playing to the right camera.

True holiness is more than what we say and do—it is who we are in the depths of our souls.

True holiness is being God-like—even when no one else is watching.

True holiness is a change of character—a change of heart.

Jesus says: it does matter what you think.

Jesus says: it does matter what your attitude is.

Jesus says: it does matter what is in your heart.

Jesus invites us to develop true holiness!

One need not DO ADULTERY to be adulterous—Jesus clearly states that if you lust after another it is adultery.

One need not DO MURDER to be a murderer—Jesus clearly states that if you hate your brother/sister it is murder.

One need not DO UNKINDNESS to be unkind—Jesus clearly states that if you bear a grudge in your heart you are unkind

The acts of the hand are linked to the character of the heart.

Anyone who has a defective heart—is capable of acting on these feelings and commit adultery, murder, and unkindness

God sent Jesus to deal with our sinful/defective hearts.

He was not satisfied with cameras/ public deterrents.

He wants the entire human race to learn true holiness.

He wants to change our hearts.

This is why Jesus came to this world to die on the cross.

He took our penalty upon himself to set us free from our sin

He provided a miraculous resurrection that we may rise to a new life—transformed in our deepest hearts & made holy.

This is why Jesus is so important—he allows us to become holy, follow him, and become sinless like he is sinless.

You may be able to fool the cameras of this world.

You may be able to fool your spouse, your family, your boss, your co-workers, your neighbors, or even your preacher.

You will never fool God—is eye is always on you.

Big Brother IS watching you—God wants to make you holy.