Heavenly Father, today I want to live honorably, love generously, and serve graciously. I need to know Your grace for that.
Read MARK 9:42-50
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Prophetic voices are those which read the signs of the times … and speak out against all that distorts or diminishes the image of God in human beings” (Kathy Galloway).
One attractive aspect of Mark’s Gospel is that it has not been sanitized or censored. When Jesus says things that are strange or confusing, or hard to hear, Mark does not hide them. So it is with the language used here. From forced drowning (42), mutilations and amputations (43-47) to the unquenchable fires of hell (48), Jesus uses graphic and disturbing imagery to make his point. We could have forgiven Mark for leaving out such teachings, difficult as they are to square with the Prince of Peace who will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick (Isa. 42:3) but Mark wants us to hear the full breadth of Jesus’ teachings. He believes that these words are important, and because he deliberately passes them on to us, we can believe it, too.
What is happening here? The clue comes in v. 50, where Jesus speaks of salt that “loses its saltiness.” What does it take, we wonder, for a human life truly to reflect the character of God? How can we aspire to the life of goodness, truth and love that God calls us to? The answer is that we must face up to the laziness and narcissism that corrupts our every effort. We must be willing to put to death those aspects of our selves that are destructive to our own lives and those of others. Jesus, incarnate God, has come to show what an obedient human life looks like. He is our supreme example. His intention is not to soldier on alone but to empower us to walk with him: to renew in us the flavor of God. He is so determined to make us salty once more that he will resist in us every tendency and habit, every action and attitude that twists our souls and distorts the image of the Father.
So often sin is downgraded and rationalized away. How does this passage speak to you? How are you keeping “salty” and “salting” the world around you?
Lord God, put to death in me all that distorts and destroys Your image and purpose. Salt my soul so I can salt Your world.
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