Wednesday Words – Declutter Judgement
September 22, 2021
Pr. Cathy Daharsh
John said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
– Mark 9:38
This summer I began the project of decluttering and sorting through our storage in the basement, so I don’t stumble through boxes. I have hurt myself tripping over items, and then I have found myself blaming others for the mess.
It’s easy for us to quickly judge and blame people, events and circumstances that have tripped us up, interfered in our lives, or kept us from getting what we want: stumbling blocks. My guess is that every one of you could tell stories about the stumbling blocks in your life.
In Sunday’s Gospel we hear a story about John and the other disciples running into a stumbling block, an outsider who, as John tells Jesus, “Was not following us.” He was not one of them, and that seems to be their stumbling point.
We too quickly make judgments about people from first impressions, political points of view, religious views, etc. and we draw lines in the sand, that divide into us and them, and create stumbling blocks. I see that happening in the world today. I read it in the news. And I’ve done it.
Thankfully, Jesus takes a different approach. He erases the lines we draw and makes the circle bigger. He isn’t so concerned about who causes us to stumble. He is concerned about what is tripping us up. Jesus is asking us to look at ourselves. It’s as if he is saying, “Don’t worry about the other person. You worry about yourself.” He’s asking us to look within, remove those boxes that make us stumble.
The greatest stumbling blocks are not outside us but within us: anger and revenge, the judgments we make of others, prejudice, our unwillingness to listen, the assumption that we know more and are better than others, our busyness, gossip, and our desire for power and control. These, and so many more ways can cause us to fall.
What if we decluttered our judgments and replaced them with words of encouragement? What if we followed Jesus’ teachings and made circles bigger to let more people in? My hope and prayer is that we are people that would rather build up than tear down and live in gratitude for a God that has room beyond our judgments. Amen.