It is the thought life that defiles you. For from within come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God. Mark 7: 20-23, NLT
"We are devastated and broken at the news that our family member could be involved in such an awful way. "We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in."
This was the response from a family member of Mark Anthony Conditt, the 23-year old young man responsible for the Austin, Texas bombings which resulted in two people dying and at least four others injured. Not only was our country shaken by the senseless act by this young man, but his family members too, because it displayed character unlike the person they knew.
So what happened? What caused a shy, loving, smart and law-abiding citizen who was raised in a Christian home to turn into a cold and calculated murderer?
Could it have been his thought life? For each time I've read about the lives of mass murderers, the common thread that appears to run through each one is what they've placed into their thoughts. As they fed regularly on negative information which may have led to evil thoughts, could it be that what eventually came out was what they had entered within?
The religious teachers of Jesus' day were concerned about whether his followers would defile themselves if they ate before washing their hands. Jesus explained the defilement of a person was not based on whether his followers washed their hands before eating, but what they placed regularly into their hearts and minds.
As in biblical times, God is not as concerned about our religious rituals and traditions as much as he is concerned about what we regularly put into our minds and hearts. Yes, the tradition of going to church every Sunday is beneficial in the spiritual development of a person who professes a belief in Christ, but to quote from a footnote in my Bible: "We are not pure because of outward acts; we become pure on the inside as Christ renews our mind and transforms us into his image (Romans 12:1-2).
Time will eventually reveal what lead to Mark Conditt changing from a shy, loving and law abiding citizen to a serial bomber. But may his unusual change in behavior remind us
today that it's not just our outwardly actions that matter most as we seek to grow as Christians, but what we allow to come in.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the city of Austin and the families of all of those involved in this terrible tragedy.