Friday, January 29, 2010

Avoiding offense with Jesus

This past week, a close friend of mine turned over a stone in my life to see what was under it, and it wasn't pretty. I'm still trying to sort out what we found under there. Despite all the recent things I'd written in this blog, I was shocked at the struggles that were obviously still going on in my heart. And though this post isn't about all that appeared to be under that stone, there is something that the Lord has recently shown me in His Word that I think is related to it all.

When John the Baptist's disciples came to ask Jesus, on behalf of John, if Jesus was the Messiah they'd been waiting for, Jesus gave a strange answer. He listed the many wonderful and miraculous deeds He'd been doing -- healing the sick, raising the dead and preaching good news to the poor -- and then Jesus said, "And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me" (Luke 7:23).

To the modern reader, it can seem strange that Jesus would be concerned with issuing a warning about offense in the context of such wonderfully amazing good deeds. Surely Jesus was listing all these good deeds to make it clear to John that only someone sent by God could accomplish them. So why the concern regarding potential offense? I've only know one way to answer that question. If John had the typical Jewish idea of what the Messiah was expected to come and do -- deliver Israel from Roman oppression -- he would have been vulnerable to being disappointed by Jesus's lack of action in this regard. And if Jesus had actually dared to tell John about His plan to be killed by the Romans, such a thought would have surely been offensive to John.

And though I've long understood this story in that way, and have often read it with an air of familiarity, contentedly smug in my superior perspective to John's ancient views, I'm vaguely aware of my own vulnerability to offense with Jesus regarding similar issues. It's 2010 now, and Jesus still hasn't delivered my wife of kidney disease. Sure I can see Him doing loads of good things in this world -- but like John, I'm capable of minimizing all of that in light of what I don't see Him doing. I'm capable of being offended because Jesus hasn't done what I thought He ought to have done by now! I'm capable of being distracted by unmet expectations.

But it's not Jesus' job to meet my expectations -- not in this or any area of my life -- and I'll be blessed if I don't take offense with Him over that. It's good to have expectations, but it's also good to hold them with open hands and with an open mind. God does things in His way, in His timing, according to His plan. That was true in John the Baptist's day, and it's true today. And the sooner I embrace that amidst all the hopes that I have, the more blessed I will be as God gradually reveals His plans to me.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

4 comments:

Sally said...

Ken, I so greatly appreciate your writings - your honesty and insight. Keep penning (typing) and we shall continue to ask God for Fiona's kidney function - and your joy being made complete in Him
Your friend and partner in this journey,
Lance

Terry said...

Ken, thanks a lot for your vulnerability and openess. Above all, God is good. He's a GOOD Father and in His goodness He looks after His children in ways that are perfect. The stone that is overturned is overturned out of His goodness which means that He will bring about the things that He wanted to bring about.

Have a great next week with the Lord!

laurence said...

Ken,

Thanks for not only bringing yourself to the word, and keeping your eyes open, but thank you for the humility it takes to do it WITH US... your brother's and sisters in Christ...you are demonstrating something to me, that God has been showing me in his word:

These past months God has been driving a point home to me, and it keeps knocking me flat. That this business of knowing God is an "us" thing, not an "I" thing.

The Lord's prayer has the words: ye,us, we, our
Matthew 25:31-46 has: they, we, ye, them
Ephesians has: ye, we, us, they
Acts 2 has: they altogether in one place

. . . and as I was trying to deal with this truth... I realize that the harsh word that was spoken to me by a secular psychologist is true! I'm narcissistic! Up to now its been all about me... and this is what He's confronting me with.

...in trying to see Ephesians chapter 4 in a different way, I had my Sunday School class try to come up with a Corporate Statement.

The owner: God
The Vision:
The Mission:
Values:
Priorities:

The range of knowledge in the room was wide, from elders to new Christians... and the only thing we could agree on was the owner.

I stumbled on this web page in my search for how to fill in the missing categories,

http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html

And there at the top of the list,

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

The proof texts are here:

http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC_fn.html#fn2

And so I am finally coming to understand a passage in Ephesians that has alluded me until now,

Ephesians 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Our unity in the body of Christ is fully explained in Ephesians, and the chief end of that unity, is our chief end, To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Your submission today in your blog is doing exactly that. You put yourself in your place, and GOD in his, for all of us to see, and for them that have ears to hear... they will do the same... thanks again.

Laurence

Ken said...

Thanks guys for your encouragement and your kind words. It always feels a bit of a risk to get that honest in such a public forum. But I guess I hope it'll be a help or an encouragement to someone who can identify with what God has been teaching me.