Daily Dose, Feb. 23 — Holiness & Lent

  “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….” (Mark 9: 43-47) Our hands, our feet and our eyes -- they are all rather important parts of our bodies! And yet Jesus gives some amazingly radical instruction as he teaches his disciples. I was in a group discussion some time ago, and these are the verses that we covered. There was general agreement that, on a first reading of this, we all recoiled. These words are hard! Following Jesus IS hard. But look more closely at what he says: If there are things in your life that are causing you to sin (in other words: things that are standing in the way of a growing, personal relationship with God through Christ), then it is better to be close to God and separated from those things. It’s really a simple idea -- but it’s hard to put into practice. As our discussion worked its way out, we all found ourselves identifying “things” in our lives -- habits, relationships, hobbies, temptations, decisions -- that CAUSE us to sin. Slowly, and in the safety of that group, we found ourselves committing to the work of separating ourselves from those things. One person had reworded Jesus’ instructions this way: “Build your life in a way that makes it as easy as possible to NOT sin.” I like that. Are you and I following Jesus’ words by making it easier to NOT sin, or do we continue to embrace those “things” that cause us to sin? Sin separates, and yet God’s love and grace unite. One way to embrace the spiritual practices associated with the season of Lent is to identify the “triggers” for sin, and place some distance between ourselves and those triggers. -- Rev. Brad Greene