Friday after Reminiscere
Scripture: St. Luke 17:1-10 (NKJV)
1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”
Aren’t we supposed to be offensive in some ways to the world? Isn’t Christianity itself an offence? Yes. And yes there are different ways in which people are offended. Offending others with our bad breath or lack of fashion style is certainly not what this passage is talking about. If people reject the Church because of some trivial point like that then the sin cannot be laid at our doorstep. But, these are not the types of offenses that are here talked about by our Lord.
He’s talking to his disciples about causing offense in what doctrines they teach or by what lifestyles they live or by lack of Christ-like love. Jesus in the previous chapters had been hammering the Pharisees for these sorts of offenses. Certain doctrines (or teachings) that they taught were preventing the sinners in their society from coming to repentance and faith. How do we as Lutherans avoid giving such offenses? By not holding to false and innovative doctrines and practices. And not tolerating false teachings and practice among our fellow believers.
It is not alright if people hold different views on how somebody is saved, or whether the Holy Spirit is a person or not, or whether Jesus is really present in the Sacrament of the Altar or not. We cannot tolerate heresy in our midst. It is a deadly poison that will destroy the Church. We must gently and kindly restore our wayward brothers and sisters and, in this way we avoid being a party to the offense of schism or Church division. May our Lord grant us success. Amen.