Sometimes the beginnings of offence are easy to recognize, such as those times when someone says or does something completely inappropriate we can easily find ourselves in a position to either become offended or to extend grace. But then there are circumstances where offence creeps in a little bit more stealthily, and before you know it you find yourself easily frustrated, anxious, and after awhile even bitter for no apparent reason.
Confession: I’m not perfect. (Mom, I can hear you saying “Amen” to that! Haha) And these past couple weeks have seen me fall prey to a more subtle form of offence which in turn produced about 2 weeks of frustration and random outbursts of tears before the Lord in his kindness revealed the source of my frustration.
I was offended. Offended that the “mess” of other people’s lives was inconviencing and coming into contact with my comfort zone.
I wasn’t careful. I had fallen into a train of thought that said, “This is my life, and that is your life. Yes, you’re life is a mess, and I desire to help and come alongside and encourage you in any way that I can, and I will even enter into your mess with you, but at the end of the day, I’m going back to my comfortable bubble to “take a break” and you’re not allowed in here.”
Ugh…even just rereading that…I had become offended that I couldn’t get away and be comfortable. I’m all for and believe that a place of refuge and safety is totally necessary, where we can come before the Lord and find rest, but sadly this was not how I was thinking in that moment.
It was after 2 weeks of tears, circumstances of finding my trust abused, and attempts at communication failing, I sat with my head hidden in my scarf at church as I cried out to Jesus why I was having no desire to love people through a certain situation.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? – Romans 2:4
In the kindest of ways, I heard Jesus speak to my heart, “dear child, it’s because you’re offended.”
Instead of feeling condemned, I was overwhelmed with peace, and within 5 minutes I had reached the root of my offence and repented, and while it is still hard at times, since that day I have felt the grace of the Lord to love through all the inconvenience, messiness, and hurt.
Offence is so gross, to put it plainly. It keeps us from loving from the heart of the Father. Being in the midst of the Christmas season has amplified this revelation for me; Jesus didn’t look at our mess and say, “I don’t want the inconvenience and messiness of your sin to break into my Holy bubble, so you just stay there and I’ll stay here. I will help you from afar, but I’m not looking to actually come into and dwell with you in your mess.”
If that was the case, we would all be doomed. Instead Jesus came so humbly into our mess, dwelt among our issues, took the blows and consequences of our actions and still loved perfectly. And with Holy Spirit dwelling inside those of us who call ourselves believers, we have been called and equiped to do the same.
It’s not easy, and I’m learning day by day (more often through failures then successes) the truth and reality of what it meant when scripture says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” – John 1:14.
Towards the end of every year I pray and ask the Lord for scripture’s or promises he is highlighting for me to hold onto in the upcoming year. Before coming to Nepal, I had received 1 Peter 4:8-10 but didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now it makes perfect sense. (Funny how that happens, eh?) What are the words of promise and life that our Father is speaking over you for this next year?
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Peter 4:8-10
– Anne Neuhaus
via Refined Like Silver © Anne Neuhaus