“And anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.”
A good friend invited us to visit her church a few months ago. We finally got a chance to go last Wednesday night since our church has not been having services this summer on Wednesdays. Our visit was the beginning catalyst for these posts on being unoffendable. We came in on the next to last week of a study that they had been doing together based on the book The Prisoner in the Third Cell by Gene Edwards. Just that morning I had prayed about a situation that had occurred; I thought I had resolved any ill feelings over it. Sadly, a fresh feeling of rejection reared it’s little head. I actually caught the potential offense quickly. I set out to put all my feelings on paper in the form of a prayer and to try to objectively look at each possible side of the my situation. Just writing out my thoughts was very cathartic to my soul. It helped to see things in a broader perspective and not have tunnel vision about the incident. Yet and still the sting lingered a bit. I digress, so back to the story…
We were very graciously welcomed by our friend and the fellowship she attends! They began by meeting corporately and a Pastor introducing the topic. Afterwards we broke into small groups that I later found out were based on gifting. We had a great discussion time and then reconvened as a large group for more discussion and teaching. Imagine my surprise when the scripture from Luke 7:23 was the main scripture and the topic was John the Baptist.
Foe some background, a little bit about John’s story…Recently imprisoned and with the threat of death upon his head literally; John asked friends to seek out Jesus and ask “When the men reached Him, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to ask You, ‘Are You the One who is to come, or should we look for someone else?’” Luke 7:20. We don’t really know exactly why John asked this but it doesn’t take much imagination to wonder if John’s unexpected imprisonment and the threat of death made him question his beliefs. After all, he was sent to prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah. Jesus was just getting started in ministry and John may have been questioning if he had really understood how things were to go. If Jesus was truly the foretold Messiah.
Many believed when the Messiah came that His rule would be a governmental rule; an earthly kingdom. God had other plans. They were looking for relief from the Roman rulers of the day and a kingdom of their own. Isn’t that just like us as humans? We try to understand God in human terms rather than accept Him on His own terms. We put God in a box that we can understand rather than accepting that His ways are not ours. If you will allow me leeway here, we make Him a god in our own image often times rather than truly studying His character by studying His Word. If we are not careful, we loose track of Isaiah’s words in As Creator, He is sovereign; supreme ruler, ultimate power, not controlled by outside forces. There is no higher authority than God.“Indeed, my plans are not like your plans
John’s friends found Jesus and relayed John’s question to Him. Later they returned to see John with the answer, “Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Luke 7:22-23 These scriptures were the springboard for a spirited discussion on what we would want to take care of if our death was imminent; questions we might have about or for God; why offense might come and the reasons we become offended. Lastly, a question about our potential reaction when thinking we have been given a task by God and taking on the belief that we will be the one to see it to fruition. Is it possible that the very supposition can be or is a challenge to the authority of God in our lives? The immediate thought that came to my mind was God calling Abraham the “Father of many nations” only to later tell him to go and sacrifice his only child as an offering. Then what if Abraham had carried it out to the finish and had not heard and obeyed when God said “Stop” and provided the ram instead. SurelyAbraham had a hard time understanding God’s directions and yet he listened and obeyed. His faith was unwavering despite his circumstances. How about ours?
Do we really want a God we can completely understand? One that always act as we expect him to act? One that grants us our every wish? Do we really want a God who answers every question we have? Not me! I have asked for things that in hindsight would have been very bad for me. I have asked questions that God in His sovereignty has not answered and I am glad He did not answer. I am wise enough now to understand that I could not have handled that information at the time I asked! Is our faith in God and His ways (His sovereignty) enough to accept those things we do not understand and continue to trust Him? Does it hold up even when our pain seems unbearable? How about when our loss seems too much to bear? What happens when tragedy strikes? And finally, do we really want a God that always or only meets our expectations? Again, not me! Sometimes my expectations are not the best answer and more often than not God exceeds my expectations on the flip side. Blessed are we if we are not offended on His account!
“And anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.” Jesus Christ
Grace and Peace to you!
Friends, I highly recommend the above book. I read it cover to cover over the holiday weekend. The chapters are short and it is only eighty-one pages but it is quite thought provoking and challenging!