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Matthew 11: 6

And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.

Do you find yourself amazed that Jesus would speak such words? I do. But in Romans 9: 33 Paul quoted a passage from Isaiah, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. Paul, in his writing, confirmed that this prophetic statement from Isaiah had been fulfilled, that Jesus was the stumbling block. Now if Jesus is a cause for stumbling then it must be that we need to take some pains to not offer people offense. In fact Paul told us as much himself, “Give no offense either to Jews or the Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10: 32). So, we are to make an effort not to offend others. However, that can also operate as a chilling effect on speech in the church and personally, I find that a troubling situation as well. Some pastors will not preach on certain topics, even though they are Biblical, because they are afraid of offending someone in their congregation. Many pastors will not even preach on tithing for that reason which I find sad because they are really stealing from their parishioners by not sharing God’s economic plan with them. You can hardly blame them, though, because some of those offended people may be influential. Certainly, there are people who will make their displeasure known in very clear language. This is not as it should be.

We are a body but we do not all believe the same. That is evident in the number of denominations we have and even divisions among denominations. Were the truth to be told, most of us do not believe exactly the same as we did some years ago. That is called growth and maturity. We must, therefore, make a decision for unity despite differences of opinion and even differences in revelation. We must choose not to be offended by new thoughts or varying opinions. We are all at different places along the journey and we need to be able to share our thoughts, beliefs and revelations without offending others or being criticized for our seeking of truth.

The most frightening result of our dogmatic refusal to listen to different points of view or to entertain new ideas is that we cannot receive revelation from God. Did I say frightening? I meant terrifying. There is little that causes my heart such trepidation as to think that I nor others can receive the fresh revelation of God. There have been so many times when Father God has shown me something new out of a verse that I thought I knew very well. He keeps peeling back layer after layer showing me that He has more depth than I have ever grasped before. I live from revelation to revelation. That is the glory of Christ, Christ revealed. In John 14, verse 21 Jesus promised that whoever loves him would be loved by him and the father and that he would “disclose Myself to him”. Glory to God! Now, when Jesus reveals himself to you, then by definition it means he is revealing, disclosing something you did not know before. So, if we have an attitude of offense then we will never be able to receive the revelation of Jesus. God forbid! In other words, if we cannot accept or at least tolerate new or different ideas, then Jesus cannot show us anything we do not already know. We are destined to be ignorant. I would hate that destiny for myself and I grieve its ownership by the church. How can we train others or lead them to truth if we are ignorant? How can the church be a might force for good if the world sees us as closed minded and foolish? Certainly, it is the height of foolishness to think that we can evangelize a world when we cannot even get along with each other because of different or new ideas.

It takes a decision to avoid being offended or put off by a different theology. It also requires a bit of self-esteem. No one can make you believe something you do not wish to so why get all upset over someone’s thought which differs from yours? It may be that you will agree with that person sometime down the road when you have had time to think about it and do your own research.

My prayer is that we will embrace all that God wishes to show us in these last days. I pray that we will encourage our pastors and teachers to spend time before God learning and seeking all that God would reveal to us and that we will urge them to share these new revelations with us despite the chance that we may be challenged. I further pray that we will remove the spirit of offense far from us both individually and corporately and that we will in turn embrace the spirit of unity and goodwill.

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