Hell-Fire Speech

Mark 9:42-50 ‘‘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. ‘‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.’’

Jesus could say very hard and striking things to get his point across. He often spoke about fire, and his messages themselves were quite fiery. He talked about plucking out one’s eye, being eaten by worms and being burned in everlasting fire. That is awfully scary stuff, probably not very palatable to those who would prefer to view a nice little world with a nice little God from their nice little church as they live out a nice little life with no harsh realities. Jesus seriously offended these types of people. He still does today. A man of impact does not hold back explicit details regarding uncomfortable realities. The truth hurts sometimes. When a person steps into sea water, he becomes acutely aware of open wounds on his feet; the salt in the water produces a burning sensation. Similarly, ‘‘Salty’’ speech is good for producing impact. Perhaps no public figure in recent times better exemplified this principle than Malcolm X. His proclamation of the harsh treatment of African-Americans by American whites was often quite explicit and disturbing to many people. Unsurprisingly, his impact on this world carries on long since his violent death. As we strive to grab people’s attention, we must not allow our words to become bland, boring or impotent.