Summary: Getting away from the tendency to believe our walk of faith is the ONLY or the SUPERIOR way
September 30, 2018
Our Way, No Way, OR God’s Way
Today’s gospel reading begins with the account of John telling Jesus that he and the other disciples saw someone casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He said that they made this fellow stop because he wasn’t one of their group.
That brings back to mind the vast differences among denominations and traditions within the Universal Church. BibleGateway subtitles this reading: “Jesus Forbids Sectarianism”.
Defined: sectarian spirit or tendencies; excessive devotion to a particular sect, especially in religion.
Synonyms for sectarianism: noun intolerance, prejudice, Jim Crowism, bias, discrimination, dogmatism, fanaticism
injustice, narrow-mindedness, partiality, provincialism, racialism, racism, sectarianism.
It would be extremely interesting, to see just how Jesus would react to many followings today that espouse their individual denomination, sect or whatever you want to call it as superior or the only truth. Wouldn’t it?
Hopefully, this reading will give us a glimpse.
Jesus has just finished addressing the issue of pride among the disciples. Remember last week, we talked about the disciples debating who among them was the greatest?
Now John ups and tells Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” (Verse 38) Does that sound like Our Way or No Way? Evidently it did to Jesus. Jesus as much as said, “Don’t forbid anyone from ministering in ‘MY NAME’”. “For he who is not against us is on our side. (verse 40)
Next Jesus gets really serious. He sets a young child down with them and says: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (verse 42). We are all children of God. I think that Jesus is not only referring to the innocence of little children but also to children of God who come to the Lord in innocence and with hunger for truth.
And next, Jesus goes on and lays it out there for them and for you and me, all about hell and the unquenching fire.
In verses 44, 46 and 48 Jesus describes hell: “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” That my friends is what awaits the disciple who would offend the innocent seeker of God and God’s truth.
Paul recognized this teaching and put it to practice. Read 1 Corinthians 8:13
“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
It wasn’t that Paul believed there was anything wrong with eating meat but if a new believer was avoiding meat, Paul felt that by his eating meat, it would be tempting to that new believer and perhaps cause him to turn away from his new- found faith. Now that does make sense, doesn’t it?
Then Jesus starts talking about cutting off a hand if it offends you; amputating feet if they cause you to sin; or pluck out an eye that causes you to sin. Wow how drastic is that? We have already established in recent readings that sin is from the heart not the hand, foot or eye. These words are up for interpretation, but my take is that we remove ourselves from the things that tempt us to sin If we took this literally, our streets, neighborhoods and even our churches would be filled with amputees and blind folks. We have ALL fallen to temptation at one time or another!
Finally, we read: “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another.” (Verses 49-50)
I am one of those people that season almost everything with salt. I put salt on meat, vegetables, fruit and shake a bit in most juices. In Jesus day, salt wasn’t as pure as it is today. Over time, the impurities would cause the salt to lose its flavor. It would be ridiculous for me to salt my eggs, if the salt had lost its flavor.
Jesus uses this analogy of our character being the salt that flavors the lives of those around us. The impurities in our lives certainly cause the flavor of our character to become tasteless or shall we say useless. Fortunately, God has given us the ability through redemption to regain that flavor.
Are we going to be the salt in the shaker that sits on the table or are we going to be the salt that spills into the lives of others? Here’s choice we can make!
Let us pray -