John Wesley once noted that sometimes a Christian’s behavior is the greatest obstacle to a non-believer being saved. Today some churches are refered to as a social club for the holy and righteous. In some houses of worship we say guests are great but we do not treat them that way – especially if they are not just like us.
In today’s passage from Mark, Jesus addresses our behavior as a follower. In figurative but somewhat harsh language, we are advised to cut off a hand if it causes us to sin or to gouge out an eye if it causes us to sin. Jesus tells us it would be better to live maimed or partially blind than to keep sinning and to eventually enter hell. His point is that our behavior is critical, not only for our faith journey but also for the non-believer who sees us living out our faith.
Jesus concludes this teaching with the call to be salt to the people we encounter. Through our gracious and loving words and actions we are to ‘season’ the world with God’s grace and love. As we live out our call to build up His kingdom here on earth, our positive witness will draw the non-believer to seek this same grace and love.
Our behaviors must attract people to God, not make them question having a relationship with Him. We must offer love and grace when others need it and offer honest and repentant words when our behavior necessitates this. We must live in the knowledge that we are all sinners saved by grace alone. May we offer Christ to the world this day, inviting others to join us in our hospital for sinners that we call church. For it is there we are healed too.
Scripture reference: Mark 9: 42-50