I am in a quandary. I’ve stewed…walked a few circles of prayer in my head….stopped writing…worked on old chores that have been sitting around years…stared at anything as I’ve tried to scroll through this maze of thoughts. Have you ever felt like that? As if the Trinity is trying to nudge you into a new thought – a new direction – a more complicated dance? It’s totally not fair when you’re dancing with a fantastic partner who suddenly throws in a new step. You stumble. You trip over your feet or His feet – until you finally – maybe – figure out what He is doing. I’m still doing a few of those stumbling, catch-up steps; trying to look graceful and in time with the music – when in reality, I feel like my 7 year old self at my first dance recital: scared – hyperventilating – fearful…
“When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this -man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took OFFENSE at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Matt 37:53-57 KJV
It is an old story about the way people think. A story about rejection. A fulfillment of prophecy. The ultimate betrayal of a homegrown boy by people He knew and what they thought they knew about Him. I’ve read it many times over the course of my 63 years. It was this time through the story when My Lord threw in a new step. I blinked. I stumbled. I didn’t recognize this step, but there it was in the shape of a simple word: OFFENSE
Offense: of·fense əˈfens/ N. Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.
They took offense to Jesus. Do I? It is a question that I have avoided thinking about even though it has been in the back of my mind almost every day for the past few years. We all have standards or principles that we live by in our life. These days, Christians want Christ to be LOVE, JOY, PEACE, GOOD NEWS. It’s part of our contemporary songs and worship. It’s easier to get people to listen and agree with our thoughts. It’s the part of the 70’s that has stuck to our society like glue. When we think of Jesus, we think we get the “new covenant”. He didn’t reject people. He didn’t stick to all the old rules…didn’t always wash before eating…didn’t quit healing just because it was the Sabbath…chased the money changers from the temple… told us not to judge others… You get the picture…Jesus, the communal, perpetual hippie. I’m sure most of you have seen the FB poster or e-mail referring to Jesus as a socialist.
“And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be OFFENDED in me.” Lk 7:18-23 KJV
Same base word, but this time a verb. The steps are tripping me up big time at this point. Am I offended by who Christ is? Is He more than the Jesus Freak version that has invaded our culture? The music spins a little faster. However, Our Father steps are a tempo, and soon, the music is silenced as the Holy Spirit begins to sing. Christ IS more, He IS the WORD, and I am convicted.
It is hard to write this and know that I am offended by the One I love. Even as I write this, tears gather at the corner of my eyes. Turning the words of the stories over and over in my head, I began to see that the things Rabbi Yeshua rejected were the “religious trappings” of the day – not the WORD. Compare it to how many of our churches are rejecting the age old traditions such as: dressing up for church, singing old hymns, reciting of creeds or psalms. Those are the things He rejected. But Rabbi Yeshua never rejected the WORD; instead, He embodies ALL the WORD. He is the WORD. He is love, peace, joy, good news…He is also what we don’t want to talk about in our societal dance. You know – the scary stuff – the stuff that makes us uneasy and afraid to talk about in the normal course of our day– sin, judgment, gnashing of teeth….Hell.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” Rev 19:11-13 KJV
I re-read that last verse over and over, and my typing falters. I pray a little more. Then I look at my hand resting in the hand of My Lord. His eyes are questioning. Do I want to learn this new step in the dance? I have the choice. I can continue the dance the same way I have been dancing for years – steps that are comfortable and acceptable with the music of our world, or I can incorporate this new step, and challenge myself within the status quo. I am questioning within myself. How much difference will it make at this point? Why is it important now? I am praying harder. I’m not sure my feet will move in step with the One who leads, but I move my foot forward….testing the floor boards beneath my feet….and trusting the One who leads.
Let the dance begin, and hopefully, I won’t trip over this new step….too much…too often…
(picture from Google images)