In But Out
The Bible on two occasions records the response that Jesus sent to John the Baptist after John questioned the work of the Messiah. In Matthew 11:6 records “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” and in Luke 7:23 we read “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” To provide a pretext for both scriptures, John the Baptist was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth (cousin of the mother of Jesus, Mary). Zacharias was visited by an Angel who said that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son. They would name him John, which means “Grace”. Zacharias began to express his doubt due to his and Elizabeth’s old age and the Angel then made Zacharias dumb until John was born (Luke 1:5 - 13).
John had a distinctive mission as a unique prophet who would prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:76). His life was spent away from the cities and in the wilderness where he adhered to a strict diet and dressed roughly (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6). Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, he prepared for the mission that God had given to him. However, when John found himself in some dark times he began to have doubts about Jesus’ identity as Messiah. While in prison, John sent two his disciples with a question for Jesus, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3; Luke 7: 20). Jesus then replied “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:4-6; Luke 7: 22-23).
John had a specific assignment as the forerunner of Christ. His was to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, turn the disobedient to the attitude of righteousness in order to make ready and prepare the people for the Lord (Jesus Christ). (Luke 1:17). He walked this path but at a certain point, John allowed himself to shift focus from announcing of the judgment of God and the plan of salvation that would relief them from that punishment i.e. Jesus. He started to focus on the issues of the land i.e. the kingdom of Israel. John shifted to socio-political matters of the injustice & immorality of Herod’s family affairs. His purpose was swayed by his new teaching and focus, and that landed him in Prison. He realized that in prison- the grace & power that have characterized his ministry were now severely limited by physical power. That is when he started getting conflicted because what he imagined was physical dominion was not coming together like he thought. As his mind got conflicted, his flesh started kicking in and then he felt lost. His spirit appeared muted & low; his expectations now appeared disappointed; doubt & confusion crept in. His poor decision-making led him into prison and now he felt offended at Jesus, the Messiah. John had missed it!
Sometimes in life we might miss it too because we are more focused on how we think that God should be operating in this world. We have to remember that the meaning of Jesus is salvation and sometimes we think that grace is equivalent to salvation but it is not. When we look at the story in John 12, Judas began to murmur in his mind about the actions of the woman who poured out the expensive oil to wash the feet of Jesus instead of selling it to feed the poor (John 12:5). He began to be offended at Jesus. Judas’ intentions were not pure as he was more concerned about what he was losing from the profit that could have been made from the sale of this expensive oil. The thing with an offense is that it will make you start thinking in a direction that is not godly and open you to satanic manipulations.
We have to stand our ground like Job and say though He slays me yet I will trust Him (Job 13:15). We have to understand that wrong expectations can create some of the unpleasant situations we experience. Jesus told John that He (Jesus) was focused on His assignment which was not to be a political messiah but to build His kingdom. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into something that is outside your assignment.
You can be in with God but out in your heart (soul, mind etc.). Nothing matters to God more than purpose. His provision, plan and people all work together for purpose- devoid of purpose you might be in Him but out in the cold. Are you offended in Him? You’ve not backslidden but questioning your situation, condition and His work in your life. Are your expectations in alignment with his sovereignty? Do you understand that God does as pleases Him? It is dangerous to be “offended in God”- having your heart calloused because you carried unreal or unaligned expectations at variance with purpose, process and an understanding of His promise.
It is most dangerous to be in church and be offended in the Lord because you are murmuring about something He hasn’t given to you. Philippians 2:14 reminds us that we should do everything without murmuring. Remember that salvation is free but spiritual stagnation is real; salvation is a gift but being seasoned is a graft and anything that is not growing is dying.
Don’t be offended in Christ.