This Word comes to my spirit in a season as confusing at it is for many. I have met believers completely out of their minds. There are those who are totally full of fear, and there are motives, there is a pandemic, there are risks to jobs, economy, war, civil war, disease, hunger…the list goes on. However there is contrast with those throughout this year have submitted to the command to study, intercede and prepare. There will not be a normality as we have known it, we are on the threshold that within this context of instability we are going to distinguish between those who are standing in the evil day (Ephesians 6) and those who are falling.
There are two experiences we may pass through now, the stone that makes us stumble and the rock which will make us fall into offence. Who is the stone? And who is our Rock? What makes us stumble? Why will we fall?
We may stumble in 2020 but if we guard against offence we shall be established…
The comparison Peter makes here, is the difference between the stone and the rock. The Lord Himself called Peter out in Matthew 16 when he makes confession of Christ, Son of God, and Jesus Himself prophesied that Peter being a stone would be built into the Rock. Peter to be a rock in Christ would need to pass a process. That process would turn him inside out. He no sooner makes the confession that he does not recognises Jesus’ own process in going to the Cross, resists it. He tells Jesus that it would not be so, and so in doing so he is rebuked and his own undoing is foretold. Peter represents so many of us, who emotionally makes commitments in meetings without understanding the processes that comes with our commitment. Peter had not listened on the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared to talk of this Jerusalem mission and the atonement Jesus would enact for us on Calvary. “Upon this Rock I shall build My Church” declares Jesus, but Peter to be a key part on that process to build the Church on his rock, conferred authority he would need to pass pain and failure.
For so long up to this pandemic, local leaders, denominational leaders, itinerant ministers, have all been like Peter, trying to build up their stones, thinking it will become a rock. Yet the pandemic came and the stones came tumbling down. Who is building His Church now? Jesus. What we must pass is a necessary stumbling, for in the stumbling we come to understand we do not have the answers or the capacity. The next challenge is in the stumbling we do not let offence be like a rock that offends us and crushes us under the offence. The offence is the almost crushing defeat where Jesus confronts our failure with a glimpse into His Calling to us. Our vocation does not come in a context of our strengths, it comes in a context of weakness. We have a choice whether to accept that our stumbling opens our eyes, and our embracing what is offensive will bring us into the mightiest preparation for an end time Harvest.
Peter only stood up when he understood that his vocation did not depend on his strengths but depended on his weaknesses and his dependence in that weakness to understand when he is weak he is strong.
The world despises weakness, despises dependence on others. The very thing the world despises is the very doorway to accessing the power and authority of God. Jesus confronted Peter on his love, and brought his call to his attention, and we only get that notion if we go to the exchange in John 21 in the Greek. We see 3 words. “Bosco, poimino, bosco” These 3 are the words for “feed”. However the word “poimino” is the word for “shepherd, pastor”. There in the midst of failure, confrontation, Jesus brings a open window to light to Peter’s darkness. Jesus does confront our failures, not because they disqualify us, in fact they qualify. Jesus has no pleasure in leaving us in our failure when we ourselves are part of His eternal plan. In our weakness we immediately access new strength. When we know we are weak we are taught to access in that moment God’s strength. When we know we have failed Jesus opens a door and it is called “effective vocation”. Our vocation is as only as effective so long as we maintain that notion that without Him we will do nothing.
We stumble at our own weakness, we become offended by Jesus’ mission
Jesus’ mission is laid bare in Luke 24 when the disciples said “We had hoped….” and their expectation dashed in many pieces gives way to both offence and despair. The stone that stumbles us is our weakness, the rock of our offence is our blindness to Jesus’ eternal mission. Even the disciples having been in the cloud of glory, been with Moses and Elijah, calm the storm, water into wine miracles, feeding of thousands, still were confused by Him. I somehow suspect we all too have a certain amount of confusion. We have preached a one sided Jesus, a Saviour , but we never think about His position now, as Judge of all the Earth, and that programme is to install that Kingship on the earth. This mission is not just evangelistic, there is some judicial aspects into the mix. Once we understand the Jesus of Revelation and the Gospels, and aspects of the Gospels that appear in the Epistles and Revelation, we will then become like the Disciples who awaken to the Word and then have their hearts burning within them, so that they can see Jesus as He is!
Jesus desires to walk with us as He really is. Revealing His Word with our eyes fully open!
If Jesus is the Rock of Offence, and the Church will be found upon the Rock, then for a season the Church will represent offence to the World, it must do. The offence is that the Church is distinct and different, and that this difference must show Jesus to the world. The respectable Church must go, and a more militant attitude must come. Our own rights to expression of our faith is being diminished and it is in this process that miracles will begin to be seen. In Acts the Holy Spirit visited so much that people dared not go near the Church. The Church has lost this quality, but as the Church becomes different, undergoes the confrontation of persecution so it will show its true Jesus quality. So as we win over OFFENCE in our own lives so we shall become an OFFENCE TO THE WORLD!
This is a time of purification, we may stumble, but in the stumbling we shall come into our true calling. As we win and overcome offence so we shall collectively enter the world stage the Church Jesus destined!