Last time we looked at Christ as the Cornerstone and how we can found ourselves on Him and His principles. Today, we look at Christ as the stumbling rock of offense and what that means. Before we get into that, I wanted to share some more titles of Christ for you to call on during these troubling days:
Isn't it great to know that we have a God that is all of these things and more to us in this time and every other season of our lives? We are blessed to know the One True Living God. We are blessed to know His Name, Jesus. We are blessed to be His.
However, while so much about Jesus has a noticeably positive impact on our lives, others are not so easy to see as outwardly helpful. One that is most notable is that Christ is a rock of offense or a stumbling block. That doesn't sound positive or uplifting, but it is as important as all of these other titles and the one we focused on last time.
Rock of Offense
Christ is mentioned as a rock of offense or regards offense or stumbling in Isaiah 8:14, Matthew 11:6, Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:3, Romans 9:32, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 and 1 Peter 2:8. A rock of offense is a stumbling block. It's something that stubs your toe, causes you to lose balance and creates frustration in the path of your choosing. It's hard for many to see Jesus in this light, but the references given reveal the true nature of this identity and it's purpose for our lives.
In Isaiah 8:14, God starts off with a desire to be our sanctuary, or safe place. However, He also acknowledges the reality of the human condition. So many say they want the provision, blessing and safety of God; but when he shows up we turn away. His Word offends us and trips up our lives because we don't truly line up with what His Word teaches. The only way to remedy this is to embrace God's Word as our guide so it might be a foundation under our feet rather than a stumbling block to our path. We must decide. Are we a part of God and His Kingdom? Or are we a part of the world and our kingdom?
In Matthew 13:57 and Mark 6:3, people from Jesus' home region rejected him and found offense that He could be something special. It shows that knowing about God is not enough. We must know Him. Only a relationship with Christ will lead to following Him and His Word in everything we do. If we choose relationship-true relationship-with Christ and His Word, we will create a guard against the offense that can so easily crop up in our flesh when His Word speaks to us.
In Romans 9:32, we are told that following God's Word can not simply become just a set of rules to us. It's not just a list of dos and don'ts. It must be something that resides in our hearts and not just our heads and hands. If we lose the heart of the Law. The relationship and devotion with God and His Word. We risk falling into a trap where we interpret God's Word in our ways. And when God confronts us about this, we'll find ourselves easily offended in Him as the Pharisees did.
In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, we find that groups are looking for signs and wise words to convince them. They want outward things to make the Bible and Christ real. However, these will only get us so far. We won't take Christ as He is, the precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Our savior. The Only God who desires to be in relationship with us. If we can't accept Christ just for who He is and the Truth in His Word, we'll find ourselves picking and choosing facts and ideas about Him. We'll make Him into our own image instead of letting Him make us into the image He desires: His image. Picking and choosing about Christ will lead to offense because, eventually, Christ will confront us with who He is and we won't be able to accept it. Will we take Christ at His word? Will we accept Christ for who He is and let Him mold us into what He desires us to be?
In 1 Peter 2:8, the apostle warns that even the anointed can find offense in Christ. If we divert from our relationship with the Word or find ourselves struggling with obedience to His calling and purpose, we will stumble. Obey God's Word and follow Christ in committed relationship. Let Him guide you and find yourself firm and founded in Him. Divert or disobey and we'll find ourselves stumbling through life and in a pit of resentment, offense and resentment. Even bitterness.
All of these scriptures operate to show us the avenues and pitfalls that lead to offense in Christ. We can decide that His Kingdom isn't what we want (Isaiah 8:14). We can know just enough about him to be unimpressed when He shows up and thus miss out on the blessing (Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:3). We can become legalists and turn Christ and His Word into a set of codes rather than an invitation to relationship and thus making our own doctrine instead of adhering to His (Romans 9:32). We can try to make Jesus into our own image instead of letting Him make us into His and thus not recognize or accept Him when he shows up to operate in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). Finally, we can get distracted by life and circumstance and find ourselves diverting from our calling in Him or outright disobeying His desire for us. That can lead to pitfalls and dark places (1 Peter 2:8). Yes, a lot of what we do can make Christ into a rock of offense to us. However, Jesus chose this title for Himself for a reason. He actually operates as the stumbling block to our benefit.
Christ operates as a stumbling block in order to get our attention. If things start to go wrong If we start to get frustrated. If our world seems to collapse around us. It could be that Christ is trying to warn us. He might be trying to reach us. He might be tripping us up so we skin our spiritual knee on the dirt of circumstance and mistake instead of breaking our spiritual skull on the rocks of destruction.
When we feel ourselves stumbling in life, we can hold up God's Word to our lives. We can examine it and it will reveal anything that doesn't need to be there. If there is something that needs changing, the Word gives the answer to how to change. Just as good, we can ask God for guidance and help in changing and know that He will be there to help.
In Matthew 11:6, Christ promises blessing to any person who would embrace His ways and not find offense in Him. There is blessing in embracing God and deciding to not let His truths-hard or easy- to push us away from Him. If you have found yourself looking at Christ with offense in any way, today is the day to change it. Jesus could have been offended at all of us when He came 2000 years ago. He suffered and bled and died on a cross with few around to mourn Him. He wasn't offended by the lack of followers as He hung there dying. He asked God to forgive His accusers and murderers, but I think He also asked to forgive those who had abandoned Him out of fear, lack of faith or other reasons. They didn't really know what they were doing. And sometimes we don't know either. And that's okay. Because we have a God who loves us and is willing to help us up, even if it was He who caused us to fall in the first place. Embrace Him today and let Christ be your blessing.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.