Causing Little Ones to Stumble
By Benjamin H. Liles
What a truly terrifying fate awaits those who try and hinder the gospel. They are to be pitied above all men. ~ Matthew 18:6, 7
If we look at Matthew 18:3 we're told, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." First things first: turn from sins. How do we do that if we don't have our attitudes checked, take correction, or learn from being disciplined? "Wait, discipline?" I know, but look at this verse and see if, in your heart of hearts, how God sees us: "For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child (Hebrews 12:6, NLT)."
So, if we choose to give up and turn from our sins it means we took that discipline and correction and applied it to ourselves in order to be seen and received as legitimate children. Think of that! He desires to make us His children. Now look at the symbolism Christ is using in his answer to the disciples about "Who is the greatest?" Children.
How eager are children? Are they full of life and without much care? Do they desire to do right and to (gasp) emulate those things and qualities they admire in their "parents?" They strive to be, well, childlike. They want to be found pleasing, full of joy and to find answers. And if the parents are indeed good parents, they do their best to correct and discipline their children to do right and to be just. Look at what a writer of Proverbs says, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it (22:6)."
Our outlook at things needs to be childlike, having turned away from the life and characteristics that taint us by sin. We were not created or designed by God to be sinful. He created us in His image: which means we are to have fellowship, unbroken socalities with one another, to love and honor boundaries, to give one another freedom to be and do "just, right" and to "walk in humility" with one another.
Just because we're given freedom doesn't mean or give us the right to trample on one another or to impose harsh dictates on one another, but to call out the person we are made to be.
With this as the setup I now move on to what Ray posted up: Jesus said what he did to the disciples so that they don't become like the religious leaders Jesus stood against. Religion, especially Judaism, focuses on keeping the law. Has any of us ever kept the law or kept it perfectly? I know I haven't and chances are you haven't either. So, don't try and claim you can. None of us can except for Jesus Christ who not only knew the laws backwards and forwards but who modeled the kind of life we are to extend to each other.
There are some "religious" Christians who truly believe they know better, but the truth of the matter is such religiosity shows they neither understand what God is saying in and through Jesus, but also what both are truly about. Love is the way and the key.
In looking at Matthew 18:6, 7 we need to understand that Jesus is saying to make someone stumble, to err to sin, to fall away and to come to harm is better off coming to ruin. How dare we keep someone from following after Jesus Christ! How dare we keep someone from loving as God commands us. What did Christ do? Did He not give of himself and his life so that we can experience and know God as he did?
He had an unbroken relationship with the Father, and I--for one--will never deny someone the right to become a child of God. Nether will I stand in the way due to my own ignorance. God has the final say of who belongs to Him and who doesn't. All I can do, as a Christian, is to show love, to show His caring, guiding hand and to do so in the same way Christ did.
We all live confusing lives, why make it worse? Why not reach out and help one another? I admit that while I led an atheistic life for many years up until four years ago, I always knew deep in my self that there was Something more. This is my understanding and my logic. Take it or leave it. I just hope I've explained this in such a way that others see more clearly and decide it's far better to "see the light" than choose to remain in the darkness.
After all, the "darkness cannot comprehend the light" nor even begin to understand the complex mysteries of God. That is why atheists are right in claiming, "If there is a God, He cannot be known." The darkened heart and mind cannot and will not perceive the love and goodness He has for us. We must choose to be done with sin and to move forward in and with Him to something better. There simply has to be, in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, "More to this life."