How far must I go in following Jesus? I need to do whatever it takes. Nothing is more important than the child-like faith in Jesus. Nothing. Not a thing.
Isn’t what Jesus is saying extreme? No, Jesus means it. Nothing can get in the way of honestly following Jesus. I may have to sacrifice a lot to be the servant of Jesus. Jesus challenges me to get rid of anything that gets in the way. This is one of the great themes of Jesus and his manifesto. God is God. Period.
What is the consequence of not taking Jesus seriously? This isn’t pleasant, but Jesus is clear. My lack of sacrifice will lead me to the fire of Hell. I don’t think Jesus is using a metaphor here. Jesus is clear and Jesus is serious. Am I?
At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
“But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.
“If your hand or your foot gets in the way of God, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owners of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
“Watch that you don’t treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don’t you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?
Source: Matthew 18:1-4 (The Message)