Scripture: Mark 9:42-50
Key verse: (45) And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.
Reflection: While this text could be an excellent example of when not to read scripture literally, it is certainly still a text that demands to be taken seriously. The text doesn’t cut off our feet but it does bring us to our knees.
We are sinners. We sin privately, personally, corporately, communally and constantly. By the time we have settled in to this devotion we have already taken our place in a broken and breaking system. We have eaten food and put on clothing that were provided by hands of vulnerable people that are too easily and too often discarded when their usefulness is done. We have already made plans that place our own selves above all, even God. We have already been angry or jealous, greedy, selfish and petty — maybe all of the above. Ugh. No wonder St. Paul is brought to a terrible honesty on all our behalf when he cries out, “wretched sinner that I am!”
And yes, I could turn now on a dime to hold fast to the divine proclamation made in Jesus Christ that we are free and forgiven though we are frail and faulty. That’s always true — thanks be to God! Yet the one who accomplishes our freedom and daily delivers us to love, wants to include us in the program. Sounding more like the gospel of Nike than Mark, Jesus says when sin abounds, and sin abounds, do something! For God’s sake do not be passive, permissive or dismissive. It does no one any good to sit and wonder if we can do any good at all. Yes, the world is troubled and we are but small players and no mission trip, thank-you letter, kind word, act of generosity, embrace, or gift will make a difference. Yet, without any of those the world will be a smaller, crueler place. Do not be ok with things that are not ok — even when what is not ok is within.
You can do something today to participate in and welcome the tidal waves of grace that roil and crash upon the beaches of humanity each and every moment of the day. There is something you can share, something you can change, something you can heal — something that God will honor and make possible. It might require you to be uncomfortable, outrageous and scandalous with your love, it might cost you an arm and a leg so to speak, but it will be worth it.
Prayer: God, in Jesus Christ you gave everything so that everything would be saved, healed and claimed. In you Lord, love is never distorted, divisions never created, revenge never exacted. In you, life flourishes and grace abounds. Help us today in our way to find and welcome your way. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].