Jesus lovingly encouraged, “blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me” [ Luke 7:23] But perhaps most of us have been offended at one time or another in something He said that challenged our way of life, that pushed-back on our interests, that exposed a argumentative side to our temperament not in keeping with the Spirit of His message, or simply showed a disinterest in something we thought had great merit. Scholars, using a Biblical phrase, call this a “lithos proskommatos” a “stone of stumbling” and Peter saw this as intentional on God’s part. Jesus can be offensive.
For it stands in Scripture: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, … that the builders rejected … a stone to stumble over…. They stumble because they disobey the word…. 1 Peter 2:6-8
In Mark 10:21, Jesus told a rich young man [because He genuinely cared], “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor …. Then come, follow me.” He instructed a concerned son to leave the burial of his [aging?] father [Matthew 8:22] to someone else. He told married men that the price of service outreached any love of—even one’s—spouse [Luke 14:26].
And while greed or the love of money remained an enemy of godliness [Matthew 6:24] Jesus commended a thieving steward for his financial prowess. [Luke 16:9] One commentator explained, “the ethical character of its use is represented as cleaving to itself.” In other words, mammon is okay for unfaithful stewards to use. Smart is smart! But I should buy my friendships!? The NIV: “use worldly wealth to gain friends…”
Regarding marriage, Jesus failed to sanction gay unions by reaffirming that God made us male and female [Mark 10:6] giving the preacher no leeway in the matter. Aborting the unborn, likewise, fails the test of Scripture. It is impossible to surmise God’s disinterest in the welfare of the unborn.
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
I was thrust into your arms at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born. Psalm 22:10
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42
Some of the parables, like the “Unjust Steward” story, leave too much room for interpretation. We run a risk of tweaking a theology based on some part of the story that is simply the backdrop of a hidden truth. We may unwittingly theologically distance ourselves from truth to self-justify instead of repent. Interpreter, beware!
The unjust steward is a spotlight on our stewardship regarding the resources in health, wealth, time, etc. God has given us. “And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else [God], who will give you what is your own [in His kingdom]?” Luke 16:12
With the years, I have come to accept the Gospel message. I want my faith to own these truths even if I cannot fully explain them to others. I have come to embrace unreservedly—and with my life, God willing by His grace—the words of the Savior, even before I am exactly sure what He said and why. And if my lifestyle or mindset doesn’t faithfully represent what Jesus describes as one of His “followers” I want Him to work with me in a serious effort to bring me by grace into conformity to this Truth—notwithstanding how much it hurts or I become despondent.
When it is all said and done, much of Scripture is clear and I cannot disown its message regardless how far I stray from what is considered culturally acceptable. If my Savior was a Lithos Proskommatos, I want to be one, too. [Matthew 10:24-25]
Food for thought….