Verse: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:5-6)
Meditation: I think that sometimes we don't really take Jesus seriously. We like to partake of his grace and mercy. We love boasting about his sacrifice. But often we have what we call in youth ministry a "Burger King Faith." In other words, we subconsciously treat the entirety of scripture as if you "can have it your way." Let me be that person...you can't. So, when Jesus says that if we cause a child (whether in age or in faith) to sin we deserve to be drowned in the depths of the sea, he actually means it. That means that if you turn the youth of this church into a band of bloodthirsty assassins, you deserve to be in the bottom of the ocean. Those repercussions also apply when you let biblical principles slide for the sake of fun or to "fit in"; or when crisis hits and you turn away from your faith; or when your political views lead to unkind joking; or when the worry over money leads to a lack of generosity; or I could keep going on forever. It's easy to say we don't cause children to sin when it's the blatantly obvious ones, but are we aware of the unconscious ways we do it. It's a proven behavioral truth that children emulate and imitate the adults around them. If that's the case, take a moment to process this sobering thought: who and what are they imitating? If the adults of the church just look like a polished-up version of the rest of the world, according to this passage...we are already drowning. This ain't Burger King. This is serious, because Jesus was being serious.
Prayer: Lord, you are so good to entertain my pride, giving me Grace even when I take your words for granted. I admit I've let my own wants and desires gloss over the gravity of the Truth. I've treated your sacrifice with lackadaisical gratitude, picking and choosing when it applies to me -- in big and small ways. I know that although you have paid the price for the consequences of my sin it does not erase the immediate ramifications of it. And still you love me. And still you are there. And still you intercede when I cry out to you. Thank you for your persistance. Father, stir up my desire to take you seriously. Give me the endurance, patience, enthusiasm, and presence to set a godly example for __________________. Don't let my words and actions lead them astray. And if and when I fail, help me to have the humility to admit it. Amen.