Jesus was saying this to his disciples. You would be quite right if you told me to go away and address my questions to Jersey Christians – especially Jersey Christian leaders. They will know. Nevertheless, you may wish to listen in….
Jesus had just finished speaking to the Pharisees about their love of money and their reliance on being children of Abraham. See last week’s Info for Islanders. Their love of money led them to think that they could, with impunity, assist others (for a fee) to break God’s Laws on divorce and on honouring of parents. Their reliance on being descendants of Abraham (and, therefore, being the people of God) supported their practice of ignoring the poor, the ill and the dying. God could feed them if he wished.
Let’s test our original questions on them. What is it – in them – which entices me to sin – which entraps me into sin?
When religious leaders engage in and support wrong – when they say to sinners “That doesn’t matter, God loves you” – I’m confirmed in my thoughts that I also can do wrong. God loves me. No worries. Adultery? Deceit? OK.
When religious leaders adopt a comfortable and wealthy lifestyle which ignores the poor and the ill and the homeless, I’m led to do the same. When they pursue only their good, why shouldn’t I? God will look after the poor. And anyway, the poor are undeserving sinners…. Not like me.
Nevertheless Jesus wasn’t going to let his own disciples off the hook. It’s so easy to find fault in others. It’s much harder to see that I might be enticing and entrapping others to sin. He said to them, “Beware your own selves! If your brother or sister sins, reprove him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”