Not stumbling or causing others to stumble in today’s world is a challenge! Mark 9:38-50

The disciples, especially John, had difficulty with the fact that one who was not one of them was exorcising demons in the Name Of Jesus and he was being successful! John was disturbed because he was not one of them.

Jesus came back to John with a comment that very much bothered John Jesus basically said “You should be happy he is doing that! Don’t think that God only works good things through you and the rest of the disciple gang. He can work good through anybody!

Jesus also used some very graphic words about amputating parts of the body if they caused us to sin.

Growing up, I thought this passage referred to ‘watching our behavior and not deliberately sinning ‘ which might cause others to sin.. e.g., don’t drink alcohol where people can see you because it might lead others to drink and if they are prone to becoming an alcoholic and they do, then you have caused them to stumble.

What Jesus is actually talking about is how those of us who are in the “in” crowd are keeping others out because either they are not worthy, don’t express their beliefs in the same way, are not of the same faith or culture or they just plain don’t fit in. This causes them to stumble because they perceive that they are not worthy of God’s love and we stumble because we are sending the ‘unwelcome’ message.

We in the body of Christ often send that message loud and clear and consequently others are not welcomed into the fellowship and they feel it. Who would want to become part of a group if they are told they are not good enough? Or that God can’t work through them because they haven’t had the same training that we have had or they are too poor, are cultural misfits, don’t speak the correct language and don’t measure up to be worthy of God’s love.

Our job is to send out a message of inclusion in the distribution of God’s love for the whole human family and recognize that God can work through anyone, those that aren’t Lutheran or for that matter Christian. God can use everyone to distribute love to whole world.

If we get into exclusive thinking, it would be better for a millstone to be tied around our necks and we be thrown into the sea!

We are not part of an exclusive club! We are part of the God’s club where everyone is welcome and we rejoice when God works through all of us!

We stumble when we keep others out! Those on the outside get the message and we cause them to stumble or live outside the community of God’s love.

May God give us the grace and openness to allow everyone to be on the ‘inside’