Of Drownings and Gouged Eyes

November 15, 2016

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from the past, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Little boy sleepovers and little girl slumber parties are two pretty different things. I learned this as a father of girls, whose wildest conversations in the slumber parties we hosted don’t even register on the “grotesqueness” scale I am sure my parents used to measure the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of the stuff about which my childhood friends and I talked. I mean, we talked about sick, morbid stuff, from “What’s the grossest sound you ever heard?” to “What’s the absolute worst way to die?” I have long since decided that these were perfectly normal topics of discussion for little boys and that there is nothing wrong with me. Please don’t comment and tell me otherwise.

I think boys are just drawn to extremes…the worst, the grossest, the hardest, the biggest. It is actually a communication style for them. You know, when they want to really hammer a point home and leave no doubt in the listener’s mind, they use an extreme illustration. It works for them.

millstone-around-the-neckIt worked for Jesus too. In Matthew 18, when he describes the way his followers will influence one another in His “church”, he wants to make a critically important point about the effects of sin in our lives. Here is what He understands about us: the only consequences of sin that really influence us are the immediate, physical consequences. If we don’t see immediate, physical consequences, our attitudes and behavior are not really being changed. That is just a part of the human condition. We are a short-sighted bunch.

So Jesus used extreme illustrations to make his point about the Spiritual impact of sin in His church. He talked about throwing someone into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck (admittedly, I don’t remember this manner of death coming up in our discussions as a little boy, but I’m sure drowning generally was somewhere in the top 10) and he talked about cutting off hands and gouging out eyes. His point is this: none of us have any idea how absolutely devastating the Spiritual consequences of sin can be–none of us take it nearly seriously enough. But God does, and Jesus just wants us to get some feel for how very serious it really is. He wants us to think long and hard about how we influence one another in the church, because living together in community is not just “Plan A”; rather, it is the only plan. So, it is important that we get it right.

At least that’s how Jesus saw it. And if morbid drownings and gouged out eyes make the point, then so be it. I can’t speak for you, but He certainly has my attention.

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