The Fence of Offense

Have you ever been in a position where the hand you were being dealt seemed completely unfair? Maybe to the point where you asked God, “Why is this happening to me? 

Matthew 11:1-6: When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”(blessed are those who don’t fall away because of me)

What a weird thing for Jesus to say to John’s disciples….but think about the backstory.

John in prison for telling Herod he was wrong. He made the choice once he did that to dedicate all he was to Jesus. He was probably a little unsure as to what Jesus was up to, or probably questioning everything he had sacrificed up to this point….

I think we’ve all questioned what we’re doing at one time or another in our life. We’ve all wanted to quit and walk away. But we are “blessed” if we keep going and don’t give up. We may not see it in this life, but our reward will come.

One of my favorite quotes happens to come from a move. In the movie Gladiator Russel Crowe's character Maximus is preparing his men for a battle. During his speech he says  “What you do on earth will echo in heaven”

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3 Warning Signs You're About to Jump the Fence of Offense

1. Circumstances Start to Define Your Mindset

Prison was probably a severe test of faith to John— prison was lonely and depressing and dark.

*We are all affected by the atmosphere in which we dwell.*

Think about that for a minute. Think about YOUR situation - Whether it’s positive or negative. Think about how it affects your outlook.

While John was in a dungeon he couldn’t see outside to see the good he had done. He couldn't see the way he had paved for Christ.  He couldn't see how far he'd actually come. He didn't have the “bird’s eye view”of his situation.

Havasupai- hiking to the Colorado, we were out of water and had no way of knowing how far we had to go.. It would have been easy to quit and turn back- we knew what was behind us but not what was ahead..

2. Self Doubt Turns Into Disbelief

 Herod had John beheaded, and Jesus just let it happen.  Even when John asked for help, Jesus didn’t get an army together.  He didn’t drop what he was doing. He told someone else to tell John about all the great things Jesus was doing for everyone … but him.  “The blind see, the lame walk; lepers are clean, deaf hear, the dead are raised;” while John, who invested more of his life into Jesus than anyone to this point in history … sits in prison.  All alone.

 Jesus could have saved him with one word. The whole reason John was in prison was because he stood up to a king. I’ve never been in prison but I imagine there is a lot of regret in a prisoner’s mind.It is possible that after John boldly confronted Herod he may have doubted what he was doing. He found himself shut up in prison with no known sign of purpose in what he had done.

As with most children of God, their weakness is most seen where their strength lies. John’s boldness also showed his doubt. 

Rob Bell  once said, “doubt is evidence your faith has a pulse”

Doubt doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, but it’s what we turn our doubt into that matters.

3. People Become Your Reliability

 John sent his disciples to report back. I imagine they played telephone and he also probably got several opinions of what was happening/ (Maybe they reported back at different times/maybe one was more opinionated that the others/ Maybe one held back details)

There are a lot of amazing, dynamic, called and qualified people to help along the way, but we all fail - we all put our personal spin on this thing called life - and none of us have achieved perfection

But When people disappoint - Then what?   Who else is there?

One of the saddest things to me is seeing Christians offended because of other Christians. But Paul clearly states in Phil 2:12continue to work out your own salvation." in other words. Don't let the wrongs of others hinder your walk and relationship with your Savior. It's your heart you have to account for not theirs. 

You may have heard the famous story of Haratio Spafford writing the old hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” following the death of his four daughters. The story goes that as he sailed across the area were their ship went down and they drowned, he wrote the popular hymn.

Some of the story may be true, but there’s much more to the story before and after the song.

In the 1870s, Spafford was a very successful lawyer in Chicago and heavily invested in real estate. In 1871, the great Chicago fire destroyed all his downtown investment properties.

In 1873, he and his family planned a vacation trip to Europe. While in Great Britain, he planned to help his good friend Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey, whom he had financially supported, with their evangelistic tour. Spafford sent his wife and four girls—ages 11, 9, 7 and 2—ahead while he finished up last-minute business in Chicago. On November 22, the S.S. Ville Du Havre struck another ship and sank within twelve minutes. Mrs.Spafford cabled her husband “Saved alone.”

Spafford wrote “It Is Well with My Soul” while passing over the very spot of the ocean where his four daughters perished

But the tragedy surrounding the hymn didn’t end there. Horatio and Anna returned to Chicago, and gave birth to Horatio II who would die at four years old of scarlet fever in 1876.

Two years later, the couple gave birth to Bertha, who would write that her parents not only suffered the pain of losing their fortune and five children, but it was compounded by a crisis of faith. Were the children’s deaths a punishment from God? Did He no longer love them? Horatio felt himself in danger of losing his faith.

In 1881, Anna gave birth to a sixth daughter, appropriately named “Grace.” Shortly after, the family of four moved to Jerusalem, with Horatio explaining, “Jerusalem is where my Lord lived, suffered, and conquered, and I wish to learn how to live, suffer, and especially to conquer.”

The family would remain in Jerusalem and set up a children’s home. Horatio eventually died of a fever from malaria.

Six tragic deaths surround the hymn, and yet those affected by them, could say, “It is well with my soul.”

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This hymn reveals a person who had been graced by God to mourn without bitterness, to sorrow without anger, to trust without resentment, to rest in the peace of Christ which surpasses our human understanding.

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 Be careful to not put a period where God has put a comma. Sometimes we just can’t see the end of the book from our perspective.

Imagine God put Joseph in the backseat and buckled him in. If he would have told them what was going to happen they probably wouldn’t have gotten in the car and gone for the ride. Joseph was thrown into a dirt hole, lied about, abandoned by his family, sold into slavery, accused of rape, thrown into prison, lied to, and forgotten about. Sounds like a great ride. But what the devil meant for evil - God changed for the good. I'll let you read the rest of the story. 

God always restores. If no other words I have typed resonate with you, understand that. God will restore. He has to because He promised it. 

I don’t tell you all of this so you will lose heart and give up along the way. I’m giving you these words so you can challenge your faith and find purpose in why you’re here.

While life can be hard – albeit unbearable it seems at times, nobody can ever take away the love God has proved to you.

Mother Theresa once said– “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but I sure wish he wouldn’t trust me so much.”

 If you are doubting the one who came to save you, then I challenge you to rely solely on him in your heartache, in your fear, in your time of desperation.

I challenge you to let him prove his love.

I challenge you to let him see you through your pain.

 Take a moment right now as you're reading this and give it to the Lord. I know that is easier said than done. It may take you doing it everyday for a week, or a month even. It's a daily discipline to let God have control of your emotions, circumstances, and relationships. I promise you though, once you let go of what you can't control and let God take over the steering wheel, he will restore. Not only will he restore, but he will go beyond what you can even imagine. 

Natascha Kling