Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | June 19, 2007

Removing Obstacles

A meditation on Mark 9:38-48. (The Message) 38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
42″On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. 43-48″If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.

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 Him. However, Jesus told His 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 He warn us against making life difficult for the “little ones”, but also against things that can hinder us from coming to Him. 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. He gave Himself for us, and we should never be afraid to eliminate anything that cheapens that gift for us.

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