Pass the Salt, Please

Text: Mark 9:38-50          Pastor Don Mossman

Introduction

I had the opportunity to coach a youth hockey team when we lived in Ann Arbor. MI.  It was an average team with average players who understood what it meant to play as a team.  However, this one game we had this young fellow who was quite possessive of the puck and playing time.  So much so that this one time when he didn’t get the ice time he thought was rightly his, he became angry, complained to his coach, and with hockey stick in hand, stormed off the team bench.  He goes to the locker room, sat down and pouted.  He soon began to realize that he was alone, and that his teammates weren’t following him.  They were on the ice playing the game they loved and hoped to win without him.  What he was doing in fact was hurting the team by his arrogance and self-importance.  By the way, we lost the game.

  1. Confused followers

A.  Arrogance and pride

  1. This true story reminds me of Jesus’ disciples in our text. They had had the experience of preaching among the people, healing the sick and casting out demons.  Now they approached Jesus saying, “There was this guy who was casting out demons in your name, so we told him to stop, because he wasn’t part of our group.  You can thank us now or later.”

2.  There they were, sulking, expecting Jesus would say, “Well done. I know this is a closed club, and no one should interfere with what we are doing unless they get our permission.”  Jesus’ surprising response was, “Don’t stop them.  Anyone not against us is for us.  What you should be doing is giving the man a cup of cold water, rather showing arrogance.”  Do whatever you need to do in order to serve that person.  Don’t be so haughty, don’t be angry, don’t be conceited, and don’t point fingers at them, thus putting stumbling blocks before a follower of Jesus.

B. The analogy of the church as a body and stumbling blocks.

  1.  Jesus reminds us again and again that our place in God’s kingdom is the result of the God’s gracious calling in His Word through which the Spirit of God converts, convicts, and consecrates hearts to Jesus. We have been redeemed, restored, forgiven.  And so are your brothers and sisters.

2.  Therefore, you need to be dead serious about preserving the same and avoiding temptations for you and especially those who believe to wander, wiggle and wobble from the truth. Jesus says via a hyperbole that it would be better to lose a hand or a leg or an eye rather than have the whole body be dragged into hell.  In other words, your commitment to the family of faith is to be a very deep commitment.  It’s like saying, “I’d give you the shirt off my back, or “he would give you his right arm for you.”  You either do the cleansing or God will do it for you.

3. Therefore in this battle to avoid the pitfalls of the devil, you need to be fully aware of those who surround you and let your light shine that others can see the difference in your lives in comparison to those of the world. Therefore, in order to be that witness, there are parts of our lives that are off limit.  There are web sites we need to avoid, activities we dare not indulge in, things we must cut-off from my life.  And in doing so, not put stumbling blocks before your neighbor and your neighbor’s faith.

2.  Salty followers

A.  Have salt among yourselves, and be salt for your brothers and sisters.

  1.  My forgiveness is in His hands. He is in control.  It also means that God works where and when he pleases. The gift of the Spirit and household of faith in Christ are a potent antidote to our sinful condition.  Where Christ is present, there you will find Jesus touching the hearts of people.   And Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection has not only redeemed our souls, it also preserves us and keeps it in the one true faith.

2.  Spiritually, it’s who we are. Jesus: You are the salt of the earth.  You are, not should be, or work toward being, salt.  If you are salt, and you are in Christ, you have certain qualities that make a difference in other people’s lives.  Your saltiness permeates that which touches your life, that which surrounds you.  And you need to be serious about sharing that saltiness.   If you lose your saltiness, you will be thrown away, having lost your usefulness.

Conclusion

That young boy that erupted off the players’ bench and cried within the dressing room later calmed down.  After talking to him about his actions were disturbing his teammate and the team itself, he saw the importance of being a team player, and doing those things that made the other players better individually and as a team.

We are as a community of faith, the salt of the earth.  As such, we affect each other in word and deed.  You are called to follow Jesus, and thus by a life of self-sacrifice you protect the faith, you support and build the faith of brothers and sisters.  I need your saltiness.  Pass the salt, please.

 

 

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