Armodoxy for Today: Sincerity & Purity
Throughout his ministry, Jesus associated with a wide variety of people. You could say that his circle of acquaintances – friends, associates – was diverse. Jesus was often criticized by the religious community of the day for this association with sinners. We read in scripture, (Luke 5) that the Pharisee rebuked Jesus for eating with sinners, to which Jesus responds, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
In fact, Jesus tolerated and associated with everyone. Most notably many remember that he forgave the adulterous (John 8) and included the tax collector (Matthew 9) in his inner circle. The tax collector, we should remember, was considered among the lowest of the low because he was a Jew collecting taxes for the oppressive Roman government. Yes, he accepted them all, but for one. The one person for whom Jesus showed contempt and criticized was the hypocrite. The hypocrite was the one who said one thing with his mouth and lived another way with his life. The Pharisees were the teachers and keepers of the law. They knew scriptures backwards and forward, they gave a tenth of their income to the Temple, but Jesus called them out as “blind guides.” (Matthew 23) He said, 27 “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
For Jesus, sincerity and the pureness of heart is central to being in the Kingdom of God. His invitation to become as children (Matthew 18) was an invitation to sincerity and purity of heart.
(For the last couple of days we’ve been looking at the phenomena of Arev Children in Yerevan.) Fr. Gregor, who founded the Arev Children after his child was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, works with these children daily. He has formed a theatre, where the Arev Children perform by reciting poetry, playing music and dancing. But their greatest asset is their sincerity.
According to Fr. Gregor, “It is not possible to be next to the Arev-children and not learn from them to love and see only the good in people.”
As we spent time with the Arev children, Fr. Gregor’s words resonated with more and more meaning. The children are pure and sincere. They laugh, they smile and they hug, and there is nothing insincere about any of their expressions. Every bit of the love they share comes for the deepest depth of their soul.
In these children we see only good. We realize how superficial our lives have become because we identify people by what we observe on the outside. God, looks into the depth of our heart and sees what is real. We refer to a child as having Down Syndrome while God identifies them as the ones who love, laugh, smile and hug with complete sincerity. Fr. Gregor’s Arev Children give us a chance to see beauty that comes from the soul. We understand the value of sincerity and how it is missing in the world. We now understand the words of our Lord Jesus as we read in Matthew chapter 18:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.… See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
Learn more about the Arev Children at their Facebook page