Mark 9: 38-50
In today’s passage, the disciples struggled with living in a tension between inclusiveness and exclusiveness. And Jesus said to the disciples, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.” Preserving the power of his own group was not a priority for Jesus. If good were being done by others, their actions were to be affirmed.
One of the reasons we are hanging back from today’s story, I think, is that it may attack our physical reality. Is it real, cutting off our precious hands and feet? Is it real for the word of God, gouging out our lovely eyes? I do not think that Jesus wants us to take those verses literally, but I invite us to think of how seriously we apply those verses to our daily lives.
What today’s passage asks us is that why aren’t we as careful of our souls as we are of our physical bodies?
What we do matters to others. What we say counts. We have power we do not even know about. It is absolutely crucial that we use it to build up and not to tear down.
As I prepared this sermon, I have kept meditating on what it means for each of us putting or being stumbling blocks—how we do it and how we cause others to do it. In short, maybe, talking one way and acting another.
Our failures of love, our distortions of the way of Christ, our too narrow understanding of truth, our quickness to pronounce judgement, may cause others to stumble as they are trying to find the way of faithful living.
Some people even tell us it is why they have lost interest in joining a church community. Unless they can see some differences between the people inside the church and the people outside the church, they might not come back to church again.
May we remember that we are believers named Christians who have been given the gift of second sight by being salt and fire rather than being stumbling blocks. We believe that there is more going on than meets the eyes.
Let’s keep seeing the world the way God sees it.
Let’s keep using our two good feet the way God comes to the overlooked and neglected.
And let’s keep stretching our hands the way God holds a little child.
Thanks be to God.