What do I do when God offends me?
“On hearing this, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?” John 6:60-61
In this verse he’s introducing the idea of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, which sounds a bit like cannibalism. They obviously have a hard time hearing that, and it brings up tension. They don’t want to do that, it’s crazy! Though Jesus is not literally requesting cannibalism, he’s asking them to do something that is outside their realm of understanding and experience. It’s often where there’s tension in our lives that the Lord takes a moment to ask difficult questions and help us move beyond where we’re at. When I’m working on a project around the house and need a piece of wood, I usually find that piece in my scrap pile. This scrap pile doesn’t have clean wood, but wood with all kinds of nails sticking out. If I want to use that wood, I need to do something first with the nails. I have a few options: pound it through and then pull it out the other side. Pound it down to make as little a bump as possible (usually a bad idea), or cut it off because I can’t get it out. I think the Lord takes tense moments in our life, and asks us, “Is this nail worth doing something about?” This tension that Jesus introduced in the question “will you eat my flesh and drink my blood?”, is this enough of a problem that it has caused you to question your own understanding and motives?
In other words, “Does this offend you?” Is there something I said that has impinged upon your sense of entitlement and fairness? Is what I’m asking of you beyond what you think you should be expected to give? Since you cannot understand it should I retract my statement? We may come to a decision and realize what Jesus said to do in a situation, but not want to do it because it infringes on our personal rights or entitlement. Whenever we come to a hard teaching in scripture or something that doesn’t make sense, if we listen closely, we may be able to hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Does this offend you?”
After Jesus poses this question, he goes on to address the hard teaching but does not explain it in a naturally reasonable way. It’s at this point that ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.’ Every time we are offended, Jesus gives us the option of continuing or turning back. When God highlights the offensive nail in your board, do you take out your tools and do the hard work of removing the nail (ask God why it offends you and try to see his purpose in the offense), do you cut it off (similar to the first solution, but leaving a residual unresolved issue) or do you pound it down and hope it doesn’t cause the next board to be wonky? The offense that Jesus poses that confronts some presupposition of ours needs to be dealt with. The nail in the board cannot stay there, it needs to be removed (with some hard work), or cut off which is easier – but still leaves a residual steel in the wood, or pounded down (mostly dealt with but leaving a bump to deal with later).
I think Simon Peter did not really understand what Jesus was talking about, but still chose to follow anyway. At that point in time he didn’t have the tools to understand, but knew that even though he didn’t understand – Jesus would lead him because he had ‘the words of eternal life.’ I think Peter pounded down the nail in the hope that later on Jesus would make everything clear. This is a move based on faith.
What is my response when Jesus asks, “Does this offend you?”
Written by Sky Cady