SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GO IN ORDER TO GROW – Mark 9:38-50
Something Has Got to Go in Order to Grow Mark 9:38-50
It is hard for me to see a tree that has really been pruned back. It is hard to see a tree that has once had beautiful branches with vibrant green leaves and colorful blossoms suddenly look bare and sparse. It makes me feel sad to see the gashes in the branches where they have been cut off. When a tree has really been pruned back it can even appear as if the tree is now dead and whoever the trimmer was has made a grave mistake.
But I also know that pruning is necessary if a tree is to really flourish. I know that if a tree is not pruned it can actually be stunted in its growth and become unhealthy. When a tree does receive pruning, however, it can come back greener, stronger and healthier than it was before so that it can actually grow bigger than it would have if it had not been pruned.
I was thinking about pruning this week as I was thinking about the passage from Mark where Jesus says that if a hand causes you to sin you should cut it off, because it’s better to enter life with no hands, than to keep your hands and go to hell. This is one of those difficult texts where an extreme example that Jesus gives us makes it challenging to accept or understand its meaning. Does Jesus really want us to cut off our hands?
Most people would say it is safe to say that this passage is not meant to be taken literally. Instead, it seems that Jesus is using an exaggeration to make a point about how important it is to avoid sin. Perhaps Jesus is using a metaphor to tell his followers that if there are things that are keeping you from growing in your relationship with God, then it could be time to cut those things out of your life. Like a tree being pruned, there might be temptations or distractions that we need to cut back on if we are to be healthy and strong in our faith.
Is there anything in your life you might need to cut back on or cut out entirely in order to more fully follow Jesus? Is there any area in your soul that needs pruning? Can we trust that when we do cut back, God can give us even bigger growth than we might have imagined?
-Pastor Erik Goehner