Jesus said, “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.” Mark 9:42-50
During March, those of us who live in New England, and most of the northeast, have been inundated with snow. Our fourth Nor'easter in March is upon us, even though the first day of spring is supposedly upon us. We have lost power twice, in two different storms. Every intersection's edge is piled with snow making good sight lines completely obliterated. The roads and the cars are covered with salt and sand. It will be over some day, by right now it feels like we are being tested to the breaking point. I can still hear my Mother Betty say, "you know you are getting close to God, when the devil is working overtime!"
Jesus speaks to the believers around him, those who are testing those who are new to following Jesus, while expecting to be coddled themselves. Some Christians, even now, truly believe they can do whatever they want because they are saved. Jesus tells them that actually their burdens and responsibilities increase. We are to expect testing while caring for the young and new believers. We are to carry and share the Good News, not judging the beloved, but rather making safe and welcome places for all. God invites us to see the testing we have been through, as well as what is to come, as the maturing of our faith, and our drawing ever closer to God.
Today, I ask God to help me face the pain and the trials of this walk in faith, knowing that each hurdle is a sign of deepening faith. May we face of trials with renewed faith, protecting the innocents and the new to the faith, so that God can use us to transform this broken world.