Love One Another, © Durga Yael Bernhard.
People are not always what they seem. Good people do bad things Bad people do good things
It’s rarely all or nothing – Black & White. You may be onside with someone on one issue yet opposed to them on another issue. All is far more complex. Than - “you are either for us or against us”. Such a statement can be unhelpful in that it can set up harmful polarisation. Who is in and who is out?
When we are part of a community, we are in community with other people. There will be times when there are no issues, other times when there are issues. It is worth putting in the time & effort to work through any issues and not to have an attitude of who are those with me or who are those against me. Who is in or who is out? As Community is important and vital to our lives as Christians.
Our Scripture today is a teaching text that can teach us something about community but that will require some exploration. Not all scripture at first reading is easy to understand or its imagery is quite confronting – the 2000 years between its writing reading is noticeable. They are difficult passages. Its original Context is import to acknowledge so that we can learn its deeper truth for our living today. This is one of those texts. Reminding the disciples that “whoever is not against us is for us,”
This is a subtle but important change from “you are either for us or against us”, an attitude that divides to a more open attitude of possibilities. Jesus encourages them, and us, to see the way God is at work in the community.
Getting past the disturbing imagery that as part of a Jesus community, as disciples, we are to do everything possible to enable others to path of becoming – of faith. We are to be an open inclusive community.
Finally, using imagery of salt. Salt’s importance today is different to the ancient world. If used today, it is in moderation, to enhance flavour in food. We have refrigeration, cryovac packaging and other ways of preserving food. In the ancient world Salt was used generously, in their arid climate it replaced natural body salts that were lost through perspiration. It was used to flavour food. The use of Salt WAS how food was preserved. It was also used medicinally & in their worship.
The disciples are left with an imperative to have salt in themselves and be at peace with one another. This could mean being rich in the flavour of faith. Be full of life in faith – have rich faith, flavour all that we do.
Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)
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 afterwards 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.
Temptations to Sin
‘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.’
God of love,
sometimes we are too confident
that our ways are the only ways
and become too comfortable in our exclusive communities. Grant us grace, humility, and wisdom
so we might respect our differences,
and better receive your way of guidance for us all. Amen.
-©Seasons of the Spirit 2018