Responding to SufferingHow do you feel when your life is interrupted by suffering and adversity?
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I’ve been inspired by the book The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. One of its most profound messages is that Christians who are serious about restoring the broken are not “offended” by their depraved lifestyles. Rather than condemn and pull away from people whose lives are messed up after years of drug abuse, sexual immorality, or greedy materialism, Lyons says we should meet people where they are. This includes reaching out and offering the hope of restoration found in Jesus.
Instead of running from the messiness that might typically offend some, we should run into the mess. For example, my daughter recently spent 2 months going into bars in Thailand declaring God’s love to the young women trapped in the sex-trade industry.
Christians who don’t get offended by the world take their cues from Jesus Himself. He wasn’t offended by everyday sinners, social outcasts, or outsiders. The woman caught in adultery didn’t offend Jesus (John 8:3-11). Neither did the leper who asked for healing (Matthew 8:1-4), the wealthy tax collector everyone hated (Luke 19:2-10 , nor the woman with an immoral reputation who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (7:36-50).
Even a Roman centurion didn’t offend Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13). Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. They provided the muscle that enforced Rome’s occupation of the Jews and would eventually carry out Jesus’ execution. But Jesus wasn’t put off when the officer asked Him to heal his servant. In fact, He publicly praised his faith (v.10).
Jesus, may our desire to see and engage people (faults and all) as You did be stronger than our urge to become offended and pull away. —Jeff Olson
God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him (v.17).
Read Romans 6:14 and note what it says about believers in Jesus and what they “live under.”
What sins of the world tend to offend you most? Where might God be calling you to be less offended and more engaged in ministry?
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