>And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, 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 sin, 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 sin, 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 ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. Mark 9:42-49

In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples to take extreme measures if necessary to avoid Hell. The idea of being “salted with fire” is a vivid image. The thought of eternal separation from God might motivate these extreme measures. To avoid the sin that separates is nothing compared to communing eternally with God.

Now, please don’t take this wrong. We are saved by grace, not by amputation. But, here in graphic description, Jesus makes it clear that nothing is worth hindering our relationship with God. Whatever it is that we use to meet our own needs is a poor substitute for what God has in mind for us. It would be better to lose our ability to make the substitution rather than lose our connection with God.

If Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and religious leaders here, we might understand why He was coming on so strong. But, He was talking to His disciples. The ones who laid aside everything to follow Him were the ones being challenged.

Was Jesus having a bad day? Did He get up on the wrong side of the bed? Did He regret that the invention of Starbucks was nearly two millennia away?

According to Jesus, Hell is a very real place. What’s more, every sinful thing that in any measure separates us from God is Hellish in a sense. What is coming between you and God these days? It would be better to ________ that to separate yourself from God – throw your computer out the window; delete your Facebook account; confess your sin to another believer – what goes in your blank?