We might be accustomed to think of the following scripture as a warning against leading people into sin. Maybe abusing others sexually, leading them into drugs or inveigling the naïve into criminal activity. Maybe. But there’s a deeper meaning than that.
"If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. Mark 9.42 NIV.
The scripture has more to do with imprisoning those less able than ourselves in lesser gospels, inferior christs and delinquent versions of the Body of Christ.
In Galatians Paul wrote of those who fostered a culture of slavery when what God had given to all was an inheritance as sons. We are never sons of God in spirit and in truth when we are contained in the law. We are sons in spirit and in truth because Christ is manifesting God in our flesh. We are sons in freedom and joy because of the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus wanted that we should receive Him as the person and the way to be our real selves.
COMPLICIT IN IMPRISONMENT
“Did you ever notice that Jesus himself was not really that upset at the bad behavior that most of us call sin? Instead, he directed his critical attention toward people who did not think they were sinners, who could not see their own shadows or dark sides, or acknowledge their complicity in the world’s domination systems. Most of us would rather attack an easy, visible target—preferably sex and body-based issues—and thus feel “pure” or “moral.” Like any true spiritual master, Jesus exposed the root causes of evil (almost always some form of idolatry), and did not waste time punishing the mere symptoms, as moralistic people usually do.”
SIN AND SIN
The Bible speaks of sin and ‘sin’. It distinguishes a sin that leads to death from a normal transgression like being rude to your wife which is mean but not death producing. What is the sin that leads to death? It is a willingness to perpetuate a lesser gospel and ‘another gospel’ because of the rewards we think it brings us. Rewards like an enhanced identity or a special status. This sin hardens our hearts, blinds our eyes, kills our real self and contains captives in their prisons of false doctrine and a lesser life.
But we have a Greater Life. The life that is Christ as us. ‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
Karl Marx named religion as the opium of the people. Some of it is. This is the kind that poses as the body of Christ when it is actually the body of death – a life in Adam, in the law and the old covenant. Yet religion can be redeemed when Christ is our life and we irrigate our living with the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
‘He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ Titus 3.5 NIV.