A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Decide for Christ!
In the Gospel passage for this weekend, Jesus gives his disciples a lesson in Christian tolerance along with a warning against jealousy, intolerance and scandal.
We can say a lot about scandal and scandal givers. Our major social institutions - the news media, the Internet, law, public education, and the entertainment industry - under the guise of freedom of speech and expression, often seem hostile towards religion, erecting stumbling blocks to believers.
By the startling words about self-mutilation, Jesus means that we must cut out of our lives all practices that keep us away from God, and retain only those habits that draw us closer to God. Many years ago, Paul Achtemeier suggested some modern parallels to the radical actions proposed by Jesus back in his time. “If your TV causes you to sin: turn it off! If your computer causes you to sin: disconnect it! If your magazine subscription causes you to sin, cancel it! If your job position or power causes you to sin, resign! If your bank account causes you to sin, give it away.”
In other words, absolutely nothing is worth jeopardizing your eternal life with Jesus Christ! Jesus is setting before all disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice. That goal is everlasting union with God himself beginning here, with our fidelity
to following his will for our lives.
We give scandal and become stumbling blocks to others:
a) when we are unkind or unjust in our treatment of them, b) when we reject them because of their weakness, faults or sins,
c) when we humiliate them by hurting their pride and damaging their self-image,
d) when we discourage, ignore, or refuse to accept them, e) when we ridicule them or deflate their dreams, and f) when we follow a double standard: "Do as I say; don't do as I do."
On the other hand, we become good role models: a) when we support and guide others in moments of doubt, weakness, and suffering, b) when we increase other people’s self-confidence by accepting them as they are and enabling them to discover their hidden talents, c) when we help them to grow by inspiring and correcting them, d) when we forgive them and listen to them with patience, and e) when we make ourselves examples of Christian witnessing.
Let me conclude as how Billy Graham used to conclude his Crusades with a final challenge:
"Decide! Cut away anything that prevents you from a radical decision for Jesus Christ!
Decide for Christ!"