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Millstones in the Church

January 18, 2015

Jesus has harsh words for those who hinder another’s spiritual progress. In common parlance offending a person is doing something that hurts his feelings. Offence in our thinking is an emotional wound caused by unkind words or careless deeds. Offence as often used in Christian circles is the dislike of another’s behavior because I believe it to be wrong. I believe it to be a sin to drive a hybrid, and thus I am offended by those who drive Toyota Prius’ to church. I believe it to be a sin to go to the movies and so I am offended by those who attend the theater. Neither of these is the way the Bible uses the word offence. The word offence is a translation of a word used to describe a stumbling block. An offence is a tree branch in the middle of a dark trail in the Christian life. An offence is that which causes one to offend, to do wrong. An offence is that which discourages a follower of Jesus from following Him. An offence is that which encourages a Christian to do that which is sinful. An offenve is that which leads a believer to do something he believes to be wrong. For example, it is an offence to drive a person away from the gospel because he has a bad reputation. It is an offence to convince a believer it’s alright to get drunk. It is an offence to persuade a believer buy a television when he believes television is a sin. An offence is anything which puts an unnecessary obstacle in the spiritual progress of another.

In the aftermath of their rebuke of a man doing miracles in Jesus name, Jesus warns His disciples of the great danger to those who cause another to stumble in the Christian walk. Being spiritual trip hazard is no light thing. In Mark 9 Jesus corrects the disciples pride. He teaches them greatness is in service. He teaches them not to forbid those who serve in His names. He promises a reward to those who do the least service to His disciples in His name. Then in Mark 9:42 Jesus drops a bomb on His disciples. Jesus doesn’t think self seeking, self promoting, pride filled speech that discourages others from following Him is something to be brushed over. Jesus doesn’t think petty jealousy and foolish attempts at greatness are a little thing. Jesus declares it would be better for a man to have a mill stone- a large wheel shaped rock, four to five feet tall and weighing over a thousand pounds- tied to his neck and then he and stone be thrown into the lake. It would be better to have a thousand pounds of rock tied to your neck, be pitched headfirst into the water and be dragged down to the very bottom of the sea than to hinder someone in his Christian growth. Jesus says it would be far better for one to be executed than to lead another away from Him! This is so abrupt, so forceful, so unexpected and so severe. Jesus takes very seriously an offence to one of His own.

Hurtful speech, callous disregard, petty squabbles, chasing someone away because of personal preferences or hindering another in their walk with God are serious matters. Your relationship with other believers is not trivial! What you do for each other to the glory of Christ will not fail to be rewarded. What you do to each other in pride and pettiness will not fail to be punished. As a Christian, your relationships have eternal consequences.

(It was Eustace, not Edmund)


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