Offended… by Jesus? & other musings…

Continuing in the vein of my last post, “Who? Me? Offended?” I’m writing about being offended by Jesus. (Yes, you read that last sentence right. Offended. By. Jesus.) “But how,” you might ask, “would it happen that I would be offended by JESUS?” I’m glad you did.

I believe we can be offended by Jesus (God, the Holy Spirit, & God’s Word,) when:

  • We have expectations that aren’t met.
  • Prayers go unanswered.
  • A tragedy strikes us/someone close to us.
  • We’re confronted with the “hard sayings” of Jesus. You know, the passages of Scripture which tick you off. Make you say “no way.” The passages that seem to fly against what we, personally, know & believe to be Right. And Good. And Loving. Sometimes they’re passages about sin. Sometimes they’re about the cost of Christianity. Sometimes we just don’t get it, like the passage where Jesus tells the crowd, “Want eternal life? Eat My flesh, & drink My blood.” Eww. (For the context, look at John 6:22-66 )

In 1Peter 2:4-8Peter compares Jesus to a stone: for some people (those who believe in Him & obey His teachings,) Jesus is the Cornerstone, aka the stone that is used by builders as a reference for every other stone in the structure. For others people, (those who do not believe Him/obey His teachings,) Jesus is called “The Stumbling Stone,” & “The Rock of Offense.” Notice: the thing that determines HOW we experience Christ is what we do/how we respond to His Word. With belief & obedience or with unbelief & disobedience.

There are several passages in Scripture where people get offended with Jesus. Here’s a few examples:

  • Matthew 15:1-20 – The Pharisees: they came to Jesus complaining because His disciples didn’t follow their special tradition of ceremonial hand washing before eating. It really bothered them… And Jesus’ response: “It really bothers Me that you’re NOT concerned with the direct commandment of God to honor your parents. What’s worse, you make up religious reasons to justify it. Bunch of hypocrites!” And they were offended.
  • Matthew 13:53-58 – The people in His hometown: Jesus went home for a visit & continued declaring the gospel Good News, & inviting people to believe & put their trust in Him. You’d think the ample evidence shown by those healed, transformed, etc… coupled with the powerful declaration of God’s truth, with authority, would be convincing. It wasn’t. Their response: “How can this be? We KNOW this guy. We KNOW who His dad was? We KNOW His mom? We KNOW His brothers & sisters (they’re right over there.) No way this guy can be who He says.” And they were OFFENDED at Him, & did not believe. And as a direct result, Jesus didn’t do many mighty works there.
  • Mark 3:1-21 – Jesus’ family: In Mark 3, we hear stories of Jesus healing a bunch of people, bringing deliverance to people oppressed by evil spirits, & calling a group of guys to follow Him, learn from Him, & then DO what He was doing. He went home, the crowds gathered, people followed, & Jesus’ family freaked out. They couldn’t believe what He was doing. And they didn’t see it as good or positive. They said, “We have to take Him & put Him away. He’s out of His mind!

All that to say… It stands to reason – if it hasn’t happened already, there WILL come a time where we will be at a crossroads… where the very edges of commitment to believing in Christ unconditionally are tested, when our own sense of Right & Wrong are challenged by something in Scripture… & how we respond to Jesus (& His Word) in that situation will determine if He will be our Cornerstone or the Rock of Offense we stumble over.

Who? Me? Offended? And other musings…

Ask a person, “Did I offend you?” & you’ll sometimes get an answer like, “What? No. I’m not offended.” Even if they really are. I don’t think its because we’re all liars who sit on a Throne of Lies who smell like beef & cheese; I think it might be because we think being offended is a bad thing, & so, rather than acknowledge, “Yeah, what you said really bothered me,” we go into denial or avoidance mode. And that’s where the trouble starts.

A couple weeks ago, I was almost done with our “Be At Rest” series & needed another one to take us up through September 3rd. (Long story, but the nutshell version is we’re launching our Fall series, “Perseverance: a study in the Psalms of Ascent” on September 10th.) So, after praying about it, I decided to do a series on being offended. And here’s some of what I found.

There’s about 3 different words (2 Hebrew/1 Greek) that are utilized to describe/define offense.  In essence, the 3 say: OFFENDED: to stumble, trip over a stumbling block, to get tripped up. To be wronged/violated/rebelled against. Stumbling blocks, points of offense. A trap/traps.

Something that causes you to stumble. A stumbling block. A trap.

Sounds diabolical.

Offense/being offended is NOT the EMOTIONS that come with the (real/perceived) being wronged, hurt, let down, disappointed, violated, etc… by another person/persons. Taking offense/being offended is the result of our RESPONSE to being wronged or being hurt. It’s putting ourself in a place of judgement upon others. It’s covered with unforgiveness, denial, & pride. Here’s some of what I’ve discovered happens to us when we take offense/stay offended:

  • Offense limits the miraculous/God’s work in our lives
  • Offense breaks up/damages relationships
  • Offense introduces judgement by us, which then brings us under God’s judgement.
  • Offense causes us to be stuck until we thoroughly deal with it
  • Offense cuts off our ability to produce Godly fruit in our lives – NOTE: this doesn’t mean God stops working in/through/around us. It doesn’t – because God doing those things in us etc… are the result of spiritual gifts. Godly fruit in our lives comes from living congruently & faithfully following God & His principles. (Thank you John Bevere for that.) 
  • Offense causes us to focus solely on the person/persons who hurt us & what they did while ignoring/glossing over our own role/responsibility/fault in the matter.
  • Offense can be transmitted to other people completely uninvolved in the situation, causing them to stumble & become trapped too.

So, how do we deal with it? How do we get out of the trap & back on our feet? It’s easy. And it can be the most difficult thing we will ever do.

For starters, WE DIE. (See Galatians 2:20 for more on that.)  We die to ourselves. We lay down our pride. We process our feelings, our emotions, & take stock of the hurts. We repent for holding on to unforgiveness. We ask God to help change our heart, change our thinking, change our ways. We answer the question: “Could you be wrong?” affirmatively, knowing that our perception, no matter how much we think is the RIGHT one, could be off. And so could we. We invite the Holy Spirit into the process, & pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23,24 – 

Search me, O God, & know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, & lead me in the way everlasting

And we stay at it – & refuse to be offended, choosing instead to be a person who takes God’s point of view on our lives, vs. our own. We embrace God’s ways & means, & lay down our own, believing His to be far better. And you know what happens then? This. Peace.

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165.

Guess what the root word that’s translated there as “STUMBLE”. Yep. Its one of the words from above, one of the words for OFFENSE. 

Love God & His law, & you will have a great & divine peace. Nothing will be able to make you offended.

a series heavy sighs, or wondering how many times I dance this dance?

Oops. I did it again. Over-scheduled my life, with the best of intentions, & a complete disregard for the fact that:

  • a) I’m human;
    b) I’m married & have three kids, each with their own complex layered schedules;
    c) Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on you
    d) sitting in meetings for hours on end counts as a double no-no

  • And so I find myself to be spent; physically, emotionally, & relationally. Spent. Done. Finis. In need of a ‘hit the alarm 2x in the morning,’ followed by a 2 p.m. nap. And to bed early.

    I’m not scratching my head, wondering, “What happened?” I know exactly. I went to Sacramento the week of 9/13 for our fall pastors conference. Great conference. Fun with friends. Challenging speakers. Meaningful interactions. Late nights & early mornings. Came home, hitting the ground running to catch something that could not be caught: Monday & Tuesday – they were long gone.

    Jerry came in Friday, & I spent the weekend trying to spend as much time hanging out, talking with him as I could. And Friday/Saturday, I managed to shoehorn in a wedding rehearsal & wedding, a gathering & hang out on Saturday morning with Jerry & some friends, another gathering Saturday evening, & a full Sunday. Which was my birthday.

    Ended the day with packing… cause I had to catch the first flight out on 9/20 to Burbank for special meetings… in which I sat on a ballroom chair for a total of (drum roll please…) 21 hours over the course of Monday – Wednesday morning. Rushed home for round 3 of a special Marriage Enrichment series (which I’m loving, btw,) & staggered to bed.

    We’re hosting friends, a family of 4 Germans from Mainz, Germany through Friday 10/1. NOTE: this is not a bad thing to have & to host friends. But it does take it out of you.

    Did a Quincenera Saturday – absolutely wonderful time. Church on Sunday. Home & slept for 3 hours in the afternoon. Oh goodness.

    Still trying to catch up. Heavy sigh.

    Throughout the madness, theBean mentioned to me once or 30 times that this pace wasn’t ok. That my sabbath day of rest & recharging wasn’t getting the priority & attention needed. That the schedule I was keeping was… wrong. Too costly. Heavy sigh.

    At some point I gave at least mental assent to what she was saying, then hurriedly justified the 2 week sprint as “fun” or “mostly fun.” She wasn’t buying it. I’m not either.

    Today I spent time in repentance, embracing a change of mind, asking God’s forgiveness for the pace I’ve been functioning at. I know better, but it happened anyway. And I’m paying the price. A small part of me is questioning my ‘toughness,” as though if I were just BIGGER-FASTER-STRONGER this wouldn’t have happened, & I SHOULD’ve been able to make it through this, kicking the calendar & schedule’s proverbial butts, taking their proverbial names. Heavy sigh.

    Then I realize this small part of ‘me,’ isn’t me after all… its the enemy of my soul. The one who wants to steal, kill, & destroy. To poison & drain the very “life in all of its fullness” Christ came to bring & give. Hmm. Duly noted. Heavy sigh.

    On that note, I look at my calendar & see I have 34 days until I’m off to Frankfurt – November 3 -16. And the schedule there is full-ish, but I have some downtime intentionally included in the travel schedule. Praying for wisdom. Aiming for balance. Staying on rhythm. Heavy sigh.

    I might fall down, but I’ll get back up.

    Got a note from another ‘scoey’ the other day (2 weeks ago now… at the beginning of the madness.) He had the same nickname as me – who’da thunk it possible? And lots of similarities in the happenings in our lives. I wrote him back, but it seems that the earthlink spam filter may have been bouncing me back. So scoeyB, if you’re reading this, thank you for writing. And I’d love a penpal. :)

    Pasty is dominating his college schedule, passing all tests with flying colors. And getting A’s, which is better than colors. His girlfriend from Tennessee is coming to visit in just about a week. We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it.

    There I times I have to literally refuse to get offended… to not be antagonized by someone else’s (real or perceived) actions, words, slights, condescensions, etc. My anger & indignation rises up… & I realize that at that very moment, I’m thinking an awful lot about me. ME. And goodness, am I of primary importance? Oh yes. Heavy sigh.

    Last night, I was playing with EllieG, my niece… we were wrestling around on the ground (which means I lay on my belly with my face in the carpet & she & her little sis the ZoeHawk use me as a jungle gym. Good times.) EllieG stopped climbing for a second & touched my head, smack dab on the big bald spot. She did it again, harder. Then she asked, “Tay, what HAPPENED to your hair?”

    “Ellie,” I replied, “it fell out. Sometimes when a man gets older, his hair falls out. And I’m getting older…”

    She pondered this for a second & said in the sweetest voice, “Oh. I’m SOOO sorry Tay. But I still like you.”

    Heavy sigh.