Friday, March 11, 2011

Being Offended By God

In the book, The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge says, “'Would Jesus purposefully offend me?’ Someone might ask. ‘He wouldn’t do that, would He?’ The answer is, yes. He not only would, but He will. If you choose to believe in Jesus, the time will come when you will have opportunity to be offended by Him. It’s inevitable” (p. 200).

Some of the greatest saints in the Bible have been offended by God. It is part of the process God takes us through to test our faith and obedience. Most importantly, this experience is divinely designed to move us to the “father” stage of maturity found in 1 John 2:14: “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who has been from the beginning.” The road we must travel to “know Himtalic who has been from the beginning” is the path of pain, perplexity, and trials. However, at the end of this journey is a faithful and loving Father who “rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Being offended by God shatters our image of God and forces us to either hold fast to Him or abandon Him. If we hold fast, we pass the test. If we abandon Him, we fail the test. Be warned: for some, being offended by God leads to unbelief – they quit believing in God because He was not what they expected.

Being offended by God is a defining moment; it’s a turning point in our life; it may be the most severe test of our life.

So, what does it mean to be offended by God? Being offended by God is when:

  • God allows or causes something to happen to you that is very unpleasant, but the difficulty is not due to any wrongdoing on your part – case in point: Job when he lost everything while being the most righteous man alive.

  • Something happens that causes you to become angry at God – exhibit B: King David when his enemies were prospering while he was suffering.

  • Trials come into your life and you feel betrayed by God – case in point: Jesus when He cried “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46)

  • God doesn’t meet your expectations of who you think He should be or what He should do for you – exhibit D: John the Baptist when he questioned whether Jesus truly was the Messiah. After all, if Jesus was the Messiah, then why was John in prison and Jesus not delivering the Jews from the Romans? After answering John’s question about whether or not Jesus truly was the Messiah, He said, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me” (ESV; Luke 7:23). There is an important lesson here: We must be careful that our expectations of God are biblical and not fleshly!

Perhaps you are experiencing something very difficult: divorce, cancer, loss of a loved one, disabled spouse, prolonged physical issues, depression, unanswered prayers, delayed answers to prayer, loneliness, unemployment, etc. If you are honest, you feel like God has not come through as He should. You are now realizing you have been offended by God.

If you have been offended by God, what do you do? How can you pass the test? What can you practically do to insure that you hold fast to God and experience Him in a fuller way rather than drift into unbelief? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Do not neglect spending time with God, even though many days you will not feel like it. I highly recommend the book of Psalms because of the honesty of the authors. Speaking of honesty:

  1. Be totally honest with the Lord in prayer, but do not allow a “demanding spirit” to surface within you. A demanding spirit is when you demand God to do what you want Him to do, instead of submitting to His will in the midst of pain.

  1. Analyze carefully and biblically your expectations of God. Many are “offended” because of fleshly and selfish desires. If you realize your offense is due to selfishness, surrender this selfishness to God.

  1. Be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10). In quietness and trust shall be your strength (Isaiah 30:15). Allow God to show you His love when you are hurting (Romans 5:5).

  1. Share your heart with at least one “Garden Friend.” A Garden Friend is someone you can be totally honest with, like Jesus when He told His select disciples in the Garden that His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34). In addition to sharing your heart with this person, be open to his/her counsel.

  1. Ask God to encourage you when you feel discouraged.

  1. Guard your “fatal flaw.” A fatal flaw is the area you are most vulnerable to sin and temptation. When we are going through hard times, our flesh will want to sin more than ever. Therefore, be aware of this and take steps to avoid falling to your fatal flaw.

  1. Find Scriptures that apply to your situation and pray them back to God. God loves to hear His Word. God is delighted when we take Him at His Word. This is called faith, and “without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Obviously, being offended by God is no fun at all. In fact, it can be painful to even admit you are offended by God. After all, He is perfect, so how could you be offended by Someone who is incapable of wrongdoing?

In any case, we all have times when God does not come through like we expect. When this occurs, the key question is this: Will we confess as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15)???

Corrie Ten Boon, while in a concentration camp during WW II, once said, “The deepest level of faith is choosing to trust God when there is no apparent reason to … except that He is God.”

“I write to you fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 Jn. 2:14).