Summary: Is it possible that some of the doctrine, rules, and regulations of the church be a stumbling block to becoming a disciple for Jesus? Yes, it was definitely one for me and I still struggle with it.

{You may want to read Mark 4:1-9, This is the actual parable that I am speaking about. }

[Why parables?] 10 As soon as He was alone, 1 His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that a WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN."

[Explanation of the Parable] 13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 "The sower sows the word. 15 "These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 "In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."

In the United States today, it is clear that the mainline media newsgroups love to tell about the stumbles that occur in churches. A sex scandal in the church gives these outlets several days of being able to hurt the church. They love doing it, and apparently, people love listening to it. What did I hear another priest caught in a sex scandal? The news broadcasters love it. Why? They must see the church as a threat to their agenda. Twenty years ago, news broadcasts were about the news. Today they are more commentary than news and dominated by people against the values of the church. This is not good for the faith. The mainline news shows are a new obstacle for people to become disciples in the faith.

What are the obstacles to discipleship today? One block for me was the notion that the church only cared about getting my money. This idea is still widespread. An example from my past is attending a free Advent dinner at the church, after which the church was decorated for the season. After the dinner, the pastor announced that there would be a free-will offering for dinner. Wait, I thought this was a free dinner. President Ronald Regan said that there was no free lunch, and I should have realized that. When the basket came before me, I had to put something in it. Since there were five of us, I put a $20 bill in. I felt that all eyes were watching me. The next time a free dinner came up at the church I knew that it was not free. False advertising from the church did not help me to discover the power of Yeshua's words. The reputation of the church is a big obstacle, and it is far-reaching than just money.

The explanation offered for the parable is to create a tight control of people by the church. One does not want to fall into Satan's hand. The church says that we need it to prevent that from happening. The church will happily show the ways to salvation through discipleship to Yeshua. However, what is the road to discipleship? What does one have to do to get into Heaven? The Gospels are not clear; however, the church is. It says that one has to do good deeds. But who determines what the good deeds are? The Hebrew Scriptures, especially the Torah, tell us what good deeds, called mitzvot, will help one get into Heaven. The church must not become an obstacle to discipleship. The numerous denominations in the church tend to send the message that it is an obstacle. If a disciple does not agree with one denomination, one can always go to another denomination. Today Christianity has multiple independent churches. Certainly, a disciple of Yeshua can find a church that fits one's needs. The bottom line is discipleship to Yeshua, not a church.

May the LORD bless you in your learning and studying of His Word.

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