Posted by: AJ Demers | June 19, 2007

Removing Obstacles

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A meditation on Mark 9:38-48.

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”

39 But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. 42 Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, [a] into the unquenchable fire, 44 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Isaiah 66:24[b] 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet to be cast into Gehenna, [c] into the fire that will never be quenched— 46 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ [d] 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna[e] of fire, 48 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ (WEB)


Even though it’s a somewhat hard passage, this is one that I think teaches two very valuable lessons for the Church today. We need to be more accepting of those followers in Christ who may claim a different communion or denomination, and we need to watch our own lives and make sure that we don’t hinder someone else’s walk with God.

As ecumenical as the Body of Christ may be these days, “denominational snobbery” still exists. A friend who’s a very strong, non-denominational Christian was told by a woman in a liturgical church that, “he’s not the right kind of Christian” despite his powerful witness. Another who attends a fundamentalist congregation tells those who attend liturgical churches that they’re wrong because of a lack of a Wednesday night service. A woman who means well but is uninformed tries to convert others to her denomination without listening to their Christian testimonies.

I’m sure many reading this have similar stories. Due to human sinfulness, we’re often wary of those whose profession of faith differs from ours even though they believe in Jesus as the Scriptures testfy to the Christ. However, Jesus told the disciples not to hinder those who may be of a different group. We, as members of Christ’s Body, are all in this together.

We must also be on guard against becoming a stumbling block for a new believer, as well as anything that can distract us from our faith. Not only does Jesus warn us against making life difficult for the “little ones”, but also against things that can hinder us from coming to to realization of Christ’s love. For some, it may be sex or pornography as an escape from the world, for others, it may be gambling or excessive spending.

Many things in this world can distract us from the only One who can give us hope. We need to be able to indentify what it is in our lives that may be hindering us from coming to Jesus and get it out of our lives. Jesus gave all for us, and we should never be afraid to eliminate anything that cheapens that gift for us.


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