Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 30: Becoming Offended - Part 1 of 2

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 30 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “What qualities do children have that adults tend to lack?”

After descending the Mt of Transfiguration Jesus had an encounter with a demon-possessed child before continuing His journey back to Capernaum where we find the tax gathers confronting Peter regarding he and Jesus’ temple tax obligation, in which Jesus reply’s by instructing Peter in this matter, “. . . so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me,” Matthew 17:24-27. Jesus used this conversation with Peter as a means to introduce the subject of “Offenses” to His disciples.

Read: Matthew 17:14-18:6, Mark 9:14-39, Luke 9:37-50

Knowing that the disciples had been discussing who was the greatest among them, Jesus doesn’t take offense at it or rebuke them. Instead, He gently begins to instruct them about the subject of greatness. He starts by seating a child in front of them and then makes two profound statements:
  • Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus then takes the child into His arms and makes three more statements:
  • Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me.
  • Whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent me.
  • He who is least among you, this is the one who is great.
Many times, Christians become offended at others who claim to be Christians, but don’t hold to the exact form of belief they do. The number of denominations of Christianity that exist on this planet today evidences this. Add to those all the independent and house churches and we see that there are an awful lot of people who claim to follow Christ in this world that don’t always see eye to eye on issues of doctrine.

Jesus addressed a similar issue when the apostle John approached Him saying, “we saw someone casting out demons in Your name and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us.” Jesus could have taken offense at the other person like His disciples had but chose not to. Instead, He told the disciples not to take offense by explaining, "He who is not against us is for us.” Then He told them not to give offense when He said, “Do not stop him.”

For example:
  • Do not put a stumbling block in his way.
    • By requiring him to be a member of our group.
    • By discrediting him to others.
    • By rebuking him.
  • Do not restrain him.
    • From doing the work of the ministry.
    • From using the name of Jesus.
The point of the lesson is to guard against becoming easily offended by fellow believers.

In part 2 of this lesson, we will see the conclusion of Jesus’ instruction on “Offense”, and learn how to be able to identify whether someone is for or against Christ.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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