Japanese FansPeople get really passionate about some things, don’t they?

I’m talking about C.R.A.Z.Y. passionate.

Like these guys…

 

 

Or this guy…

Ghana Fan

 

 

 

 

And, just so you don’t think it’s only foreigners who are crazy, what about this guy?

Bears fan

When we are really and truly passionate about something we go to great lengths to embrace that passion. We don’t care what others say. We don’t care what others think. All we know is, “This is my passion and nothing will stand in my way.”

This is the kind of thing Jesus is talking about in Mark 9. When you’re passionate and dedicated to something, you will go to any length to support it.

Jesus said:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

How aggressively do you attack the obstacles that stand in your way? When a person is diagnosed with cancer, doctors sometimes have what they call “aggressive treatment.” They hit the cancer hard and fast and with everything they’ve got. This is the very attitude Jesus talks about here. How hard and fast will you hit the sin areas in your life? What will you chop off so that you can avoid the danger of eternal separation from God?

I’m not sure how many of us even think about our eternal destiny. We go through life and can get so bogged down in the daily grind that we take our eyes off of eternity. One of my favorite movies is the movie Gladiator. There’s a scene where the Roman general Maximus is inspiring his soldiers to fight well and he tells them, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

Do you hear what Jesus is saying? What we do in life echoes in eternity. So make sure that your behavior here is not creating echoes you never want to hear in the next life. Because separation from God is no joke. Many people have been caught up in the book and movie, “Heaven is for Real.” But God is clear that hell is for real, too. The image Jesus uses for hell is Gehenna.

Gehenna was a real place, a valley south of Jerusalem. In the ancient days of Israel, Gehenna was the location of a wicked cult that practiced passing children through fire. It came to be a metaphor, to represent the Jewish idea of hell. Jesus is not trying to give us a literal vision of hell but trying to help us understand how bad it is to be eternally separated from God. The worms that eat them do not die means that the flesh is forever rotting. Once the flesh is all gone from a corpse there is nothing left there for maggots. They die. But these maggots feed eternally, and the flames burn forever. Not a place you want to go. What’s it worth to you to be in the presence of God? Jesus says, it should be worth giving up your very limbs. Whatever in your life tempts you to drift away from God, discard it decisively – aggressively.

My hand is causing me to sin. Whack! My eye is causing me to sin. Spoink! My television is causing me to sin. Whoosh! My tongue is causing me to sin. Cu I ou! My mind is causing me to sin. Lobotomy!

Get the picture?

Jesus isn’t really telling us to mutilate ourselves. He’s using vivid imagery to make a point. Our eternal destiny is so important that we ought to be aggressive and intentional about making sure we stay away from the things that separate us from God. Take a moment and reflect. Let me ask you to think on this: What is something you did this week you know God wouldn’t want you to do? You can’t help it – almost all of us thought of something. There are no perfect people on earth. 🙂

Now – to what lengths will you go to get that out of your life?