I am an unabashed Harry Potter fan, and this phrase come from the fifth book when Harry is going down to the courtrooms to face charges of underaged wizardry. The line is spoken by Arthur Weasley as he escorts Harry down to the courtrooms, and before Dumbledore comes to save the day.
I was talking with my Tuesday morning Bible study group about Matthew 14:18 this morning,”But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.” This comes after the Pharisees accuse Jesus and his disciples of not following the elaborate hand washing rituals that they followed. And this is part of Jesus response to the Pharisees. The implication is that yes they wash their hands elaborately, but the inner parts, their hearts, were truly the dirtiest part of their lives.
When I read this passage during my devotional time the other morning it got to me thinking about the fight we often have to fight against ourselves to put a Christ-like face out there. A lot of times the Christian life feels like “fake it til’ we make it.” And that is exactly the way is most of the time, we are trying to truly follow Jesus until we truly do follow him. But we always have those “truth will out” moments, those moments that our weak spots and tender spots still remain.
I see this in my own life when something happens and my initial reaction has nothing to do with the love of Christ, but everything to do with the way culture has conditioned me to react. When a neighbor says something that upsets me I do not mount a gracious response, but instead a heated or angry one. I know that we all fall, I count myself as chief of sinners as Paul wrote, but we have to try and mount a truly Christian response.
One of my professors in college David Zerkel had a quote in his office, “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.” He called my attention to that quote many times throughout my time studying music under him. I can now freely admit now that my practice was not always perfect, nor was there always enough of it. We will have those truth will out moments, but the true test of our faith is what we do after we have fallen.
Do we just take ourselves out of the game, or do we dust ourselves off and try again the next time? I think perfect practice is how we react when we fail to truly live to our convictions. Living into our convictions in this world is extremely tough, especially when those convictions are counter to the world around us. But I really think that if we eventually practice truly following Christ, then as we, to cop a Wesleyan term, move towards perfection in our response to the world. And eventually the truth will out that we are truly seeking after God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and body.