Question Jesus Asked

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? John 6:61                                                                                                                

What a powerful question.

There are whole parts of Jesus’ teaching that are offensive to us in our natural sensibilities. He was not hung on a cross because He walked around telling everyone to be nice to one another. People were offended by Him back then and the same is true today.

“Jesus, I don’t like what You have to say about picking up my cross. I don’t like that You say I am blessed when people mock me, persecute me and lie about me because I am Your follower. That offends me. I don’t feel blessed when that happens.”

“Jesus, I don’t like Your teachings on marriage or sexual ethics. They offend me. Jesus, I get the idea that we should not murder someone, but then You go and say don’t be angry? That’s offensive. And by the way, “eat Your flesh and drink Your blood”? That’s offensive too.”
Sometimes we want Jesus to be an “unoffending Jesus”—a version of Jesus who agrees with everything we already think likes what we already like, and wants us to do what we already wanted to do before we came to Him. But that Jesus is not the Jesus of reality. If you reduce Jesus to a cartoon who is not allowed to offend you, then be prepared that such a made-up version of Jesus won’t be able to save you either.

The sad reality is, not all who start out as followers of Jesus will stay followers of Jesus. But the Twelve stay with him, not because they are not offended but because they know that He alone has the words that give eternal life. Will you stay with Jesus when you are offended?

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Are You Offended?

There is a new phenomenon that has occurred is changing our world. It is the big O word = Offense. Every evening the news reports another lawsuit because of a business, a person, a teacher has offended someone. Just this week the New York Times reported that the terms “fireman” and “policeman” will be changed to “firefighter” and “police officer.” The bill was passed to make the terms ‘gender-neutral’  to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for all of our first responders, regardless of gender.” 

The list goes on and on. We have to walk on eggshells so we do not offend this one or that one. While I grew up, part of life was being offended, either intentional or unintentional but I got over it! Proverbs 19:11 You should not purposely offend or be obnoxious but if you live a consistent, God-honoring life you will offend someone. 2 Timothy 3:12 The Bible speaks of the offense of the Gospel. “…In that case, the offense of the cross has been abolished….” Galatians 5:11

You cannot avoid ‘offending’ people, so the secret to living is to live a life pleasing to God and not people. When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends. Proverbs 16:7 GNT

 

 

What Did You Say?

You can’t control much of what happens to you in life. You can’t control who your parents are, where you were born, and a variety of things that have a significant influence on your life.

But you can choose how you react to what life throws your way. We have all heard people say, “They make me so bad!” Technically that is not correct. People may do things to you, lie about you or even cheat you but you have the choice how you will respond. The choice is always yours. Proverbs 29:11 (GW) says, “A fool expresses all his emotions but a wise person controls them.”

When we are mistreated, the proper reaction isn’t to blow up or clam up. Instead of responding in anger, God has a better solution. “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.” Proverbs 15:1

Here is the bottom line: Trust God to settle the score. After all, He has more and better resources to do that than you do.

Christmas Contrasts

vacancyEvery Christmas we hear pastors preach a sermon about there being no room for Jesus in the inn. The sermon is usually concluded by encouraging everyone to make room for Jesus in their lives. I have preached that message myself.  We SHOULD make room for Him.

But as I thought about making room for Jesus this year, a verse of Scripture came to my mind, a verse that tells us to put a “No Vacancy” sign. Ephesians 4:27 says, “…and do not leave room for the devil.” In our home, we have a bedroom that has been designated as the ‘guest room.’ This room is for people that are invited or welcomed to stay with us. Setting up a room for the Devil sounds like a bad idea. But that is exactly what we do when we allow him to focus on other things instead of Jesus Christ. Tell the Devil there is no room for him in your life. No vacancy

The Defense Against Offense

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Mt. 15:12

Everybody, every single person who has ever lived on earth, has been offended. Not once, but many times. In some cases, many, many times. “Offense,””offenses,” “offend,” “offended” and “offender” appear a total of seventy-three times in the Bible. Several writers, as well as Jesus, give the subject of offense close scrutiny.

We tend to use the word “offense” in the sense of feeling displeasure. Our displeasure may range from merely being stirred all the way to feeling deep resentment and indignation.

Offenses usually occur when someone says something to us too harshly—or at least we interpret it that way. It can and does occur when we perceive that we have been ignored, overlooked or given a responsibility we do not want. Or we become offended when we are blamed for something we did not do, or on the other hand, when we do not receive credit for what we did do. We may be offended when someone has been inconsiderate or thoughtless or has used us for their own purposes. The ways to become offended are many.

Parents are “offended” by the Nutcracker because they think it is ‘religious.

Prayer prohibited at football game.

Muslim woman offended by a bacon sign.

Teachers no longer use a red pen to grade papers; so children are not offended.

The Best Defense? The best defense against offense is a healthy and growing relationship with God. We must nurture this relationship on a daily basis, and not allow it to degenerate through a lack of care. And then, when the pressure is on because offense has come, we can cry out in our anguish and desperation for help and receive the help we need. Hebrews 4:16

When people’s lives please the Lordeven their enemies are at peace with them.” Prov. 16:7 NLT