Mark 9:38-50

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“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. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 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. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:38-50

For far too many years, my focus on the faith was one of finding all the ways that Christianity was right and good for the world, over against other world religions that were wrong and not good for the world. Such a way of looking at things was a simplistic, over-generalized, setting up of easily knocked down straw men. I wasn’t alone. It seemed that everyone thought that way.

How did we get there?

Jesus had plenty of room in his imagination for people who blessed and served others without checking their tribal identity at the door. How was that so easily left behind in the forward march of the Christian faith from a beleaguered minority dedicated to love of God and love of neighbor to an official apologizer for the Empire?

By the way, that didn’t end in the dusty bins of history. There are still corners of the Christian movement that bask in the glow of official governmental and cultural sanction. Such corners rejoice at the picture of the President of the United States holding a Bible in front of the sign for an Episcopal church. Is there any consideration in that for how a Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or agnostic or atheist American citizen feel in seeing that picture? Not to mention that every religious community is now suffering in an age when we are all cut off from the most meaningful thing we do – gathering together for worship.

People of all faiths and no faiths are suffering the face of the current social unrest. Quite likely people of all faiths and no faith were among those hit with tear gas to clear a path for that picture to be taken. A picture that is about as close as this president gets to actually reading a Bible or entering a church door.

Jesus says that “salt that has lost its saltiness” is no longer good salt. His words of warning are not addressed to an unbelieving world but to disciples who are so inwardly-focused and self-righteous that they are blind to God’s loving movement in the world. They can’t see beyond their own noses and their own privileged status as “Jesus insiders.” A thirsty person receiving a cup of cold water doesn’t care about the tribal identity of the hand that brought it to her.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, bless those who bless others with care, with humble service, with open hearts, open minds, and grace. May we follow in your footsteps of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Mark 9:38-50”

  1. Keith Says:

    Amen! Thank you Pastor Kerry!

  2. Jimmiezunker Says:

    I’m interested to know how you can be so absolutely sure about how close the President gets to actually reading a bible or entering a Church door.?? Are you able to see his every moment to be able to make such a declarative statement?? Can you somehow miraculously read his heart and mind and see what he does or doesn’t do??

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Paul Graeber Says:

    I see hat this President does, says, and acts toward others. I believe you to be wrong, and biased. What I do not understand is what yo plan on doing for a living in a Socialist society you and his other opponents are pushing us toward.
    Stick to Jesus and religion. Jesus had just cause to chastise his political leaders, but he just taught never personally criticized. It is beneath you, as you are a great teacher yourself.
    Be blessed.

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