Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Matthew 18:1-9 Jesus is very extreme in his language when referring to those things which keep us from experiencing true life in the Kingdom of God. The mere suggestion of cutting off our hand or tearing out our eye sounds like something out of a horror movie. As part of an assignment for seminary I was allowed to visit an AA meeting. Hearing the stories of some of it’s participants helped put into perspective what it really means to cut something out of your life. Like cutting off a foot or tearing out an eye, it’s not a temporary solution. It’s a daily permanent act of choosing life, not only theirs alone but also the lives of their family. Life can have its horror moments and occasions for stumbling are bound to come, some more severe than others. Yet, as believers and children of a living God, we must not become stumbling blocks and have much to learn from those who daily make the decision to “cut off” those things that could cause anyone of us to stumble.
“…cut it off.” Mark 9:42-50 The gift of our hands our feet and eyes are all meant to glorify God. But in this world, they can be lead to work against our intended nature to love and serve God. Literally, cutting off our hand or foot and tearing out our eye is gruesome and extreme. However, the significance of Jesus’ command is that if God’s kingdom is our goal it is far better to lose a part of the physical body than the whole of the spiritual life. If our hand touches, our feet takes us places and our eye sees and perceives according to the world, Jesus could just have easily said; cut off those things that you touch, the places that you go and the things you look at, but would you have listened? Instead Jesus catches our attention and gives us more of an incentive to change according to God’s will and not our own.
Lent: Day 30 – There are times in our lives when things are really bad. Feelings of fear, oppression, disappointment, frustration and loss have become overwhelming. Absolutely nothing could be worse, than the way things are right now. Then one day you find the strength through God’s word to make a move in a different direction towards something that is both plausible and doable. However, instead of things getting better they get worse. Every ounce of strength and faith we have in God’s word, will be tested by those who refuse to see what we see and refuse to know what we know within your heart, through Christ. During the time of struggle, whatever time we take to understand God’s presence in our lives will be lifted up as Christ himself was lifted up. However, as we draw closer to God in the spiritual, the powers (depression, fear, jealously, pride, anger etc.) that belong to the physical realm begin to fight back. We don’t have a Moses per se, someone in the physical who can respond for us. What we do have is Christ within us by whom we respond in faith. Our faith becomes your shield in the face of those who put a stumbling block before us. What others intended to be a nightmare for us, has now become their nightmare because faith is like fire to those who do not believe. God who is faithful, will lift us up and continue to move us in the direction he intended us to be, in reconciliation with him. Believe and Live!
Exodus 5:1-6:1 ‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it,…Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.’
Mark 9:42-50 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea…‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.