“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,…” Mark 9:47
When I was growing up, hate was a four letter word in my house. My mother explained to us when we were very young that to hate someone meant that you wished they would go to hell. This stuck with me over the years as I grew up, and would make me squirm when I was accused of hatred for whatever reason. When I was younger in faith, I would often seek to make amends at the mention of the word, not wanting to break God’s command to love my neighbors and even my enemies. Yet, I could not get around the fact that God also commands us to speak His truth in the world, despite the consequences we might suffer for it.
As I prayed over the words for today, this verse was brought to mind on the issue of hell, and what true, real love can sometimes cost. Christ commanded His disciples to cut off their hands or feet, tear out there eye rather than allow those body parts to drag them into sin, and then into hell. There was no quibbling, there was no talk of how much it might hurt to do something like that, there was no question of whether or not we loved our hand or foot, or even needed it. Christ’s command was simple and straightforward. It is better to enter the kingdom of God, even maimed in this life, than to be thrown into hell because we were unwilling to give up the things that cause us to sin.
When we are faced today with accusations of hatred toward people, it is typically because we have pointed to something that is sin, and called it sin. We are told we are shoving our religion down people’s throats. We are told we are not to judge. We are told we are trying to tell people who they can love. We are told that because we have called something a sin, we automatically hate the sinner, and are thus bad people. More importantly, and often more effectively, we are told we are bad Christians because we are hating people and God told us to love people.
But, are we truly being hateful? Was Christ filled with hate when he pointed out the sins of the woman at the well, the money changers, or the Pharisees? Or was He in His infinite love telling them the dangers of what they were doing and offering them the choice of salvation? As Christians we are called to follow Christ’s example. We are called to point out the sins that are killing those we are called to love. This is not to cast judgment, not to condemn, but to warn of the danger and offer them the way to the kingdom of God.
According to Christ, sometimes that way will hurt. Sometimes the way to God’s kingdom is to give us things that we hold dear. Sometimes the person lost in their sin will be angry at the one who tells them of their sins. Sometimes, a King might even get hung on a cross for speaking God’s truth about sin. But, we are called speak what others do not want to hear in spite of those risks. Not because we hate them, but because we love them dearly and don’t want them to be cast into hell. Be blessed and be a blessing.
Father, sometimes it is hard for us to speak Your truth in the world. We don’t want others to feel sad, and we don’t want them to grow angry with us. Sometimes we are even worried that our message may cause them to turn from You. Give us Your words Father, and open the hearts of those who hear them, so that Your truth can be spoken, both the sin and the salvation. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.