Thursday, December 25, 2008

When God Offends Us

This is an excerpt from an article by Francis Frangipane entitled, "Unoffendable."

The fact is, false expectations can become a source of many deep offenses. However, one of the worst offenses we can suffer is when God Himself purposely offends us.

In 2 Kings 5, we read the story of when Naaman, a Syrian general, sought to be healed of leprosy by Elisha, the prophet. When Naaman and his entourage arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t greet him personally, but instead sent his servant with a word/cure for Naaman. It was a simple assignment for the military leader: wash seven times in the Jordan River. However, the cure offended Naaman. Why didn’t the prophet himself come out? Why this muddy Jordan? Scripture says that “Naaman was furious.”

An offended spirit is an angry spirit. In this case, Naaman was beyond mad; he was furious. Do you find that you are always mad at a particular person? It’s because they have offended you and you haven’t forgiven them. Naaman was offended at Elisha, but what was the real cause of Naaman’s offense? Listen to his words. He said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper’” (v. 11).

Catch the phrase, “Behold, I thought . . .” In truth, Naaman was not offended by Elisha, but by his own failed expectations. He probably spent many hours envisioning the moment of healing. He even pictured himself testifying of how the man of God healed him. When it didn’t happen according to his plan, he was offended.

Friends, before the Lord heals you or assigns you some new, elevated position of service, He will often offend you. Why? What is it that gets offended in us? Usually, it is our pride. We come to God desiring physical healing, but the Lord wants us not only to be healed, but to be humble. Yes, God heals us through our faith, but there our times when our own pride keeps us from receiving the method of God’s healing. The Lord offends us to humble us, so He can give us grace. Faith works through grace, but God only gives grace to the humble.

Look at how often Jesus offended people before He healed them. Once, He actually spit on the ground, made mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes, and then told him to walk across town that way! Imagine if you were next in the healing line and saw what the guy before you had to do. Admit it, we each would be looking for another healing ministry, one that is a little less offensive! On another occasion He told a woman who came seeking her daughter’s healing that she was an unclean dog; another time, He stuck His fingers in the ears of a man to heal his deafness. The Lord often offended people before He healed them.

If we would learn to humble ourselves in the offense, we would discover that the apparent offense was, in realty, a door that led into the manifest power of God. When Jesus called the Canaanite woman a “dog,” instead of being offended, she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs” (Matt. 15:27). When Jesus told the man to walk across town with mud in his eyes, the man didn’t argue or ask for a more dignified healing; he humbled himself and came back seeing. When Elisha told Naaman to dip in the Jordan seven times, the offense wounded him. Yet, when he humbled himself, his leprosy was replaced with the skin of a little child. His skin became as a child, because his heart, through humility, became as a child.

Maybe you haven’t received your healing or breakthrough yet because to walk the path set before you is beneath your dignity. Maybe you need to get rid of your dignity and go to that Pentecostal or Baptist church you’ve been making fun of, then ask them to pray for you. God wants to heal you, but He also wants to renew and transform you with His grace.

Overcome Offenses

When we study what Jesus taught, it is obvious that He came to make us “unoffendable.” Consider: He says that if someone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other. He said to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. What He’s really doing is showing us how an unoffendable heart of love overcomes all adversity.

We pray, “Lord, I want to change.” To answer our prayer, He sometimes must put us in situations that perfectly offend us. The offense itself awakens our need of grace. Thus, the Lord precipitates change by first offending the area of our soul He desires to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity, but to become Christlike in it. Ask Joseph in the Old Testament: the “land of offense” became the land of his anointing and power. Listen my friends: the destiny God has for man unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the key to our tomorrow.

“Those who love [God’s] law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165).

Lord, grant me that new creation heart that can walk as Jesus walked, through a world of offenses without stumbling. I want to see everything as an opportunity to pray, everything as an opportunity to become Christlike. Lord help me to interpret offenses as opportunities that lead to transformations. Grant me, Lord Jesus, the pulse and beat of Your unoffendable heart. Amen.

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