Jesus regularly says shocking and offensive stuff to us.
Remember that time Jesus told a paralyzed guy that his sins were forgiven! …Imagine how offended you would be! You’re the victim! You’re paralyzed! You think, “God has some explaining to do.” And then one day God shows up in the flesh and the first thing He says to you is, “Don’t worry, even though you’re evil I forgive you!”
Or how about that time when a Galilean official’s son was on his death bed, and he asked Jesus for help, and Jesus replied, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Imagine how offended you would be! You would go around telling people, “Jesus is so insensitive! I humbly asked him to help my dying child, and He accused me of being superficial and greedy for miracles.”
Or what about that scene where Jesus is chatting with an invalid (who’d suffered for 38 years!), and after healing the guy He tells him, “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” How dare Jesus say anything sounding different than John 9:3!
Let’s pause and reflect on an insight rendered unto us by Mr. Steinbeck – – – >
“Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? …Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)
Remember that time Jesus observed how we give our kids good things? For example, if our kids ask for a snack we don’t offer them a bowl of rocks or a poisonous snake. And just when we think Jesus is commending us, He clarifies, “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
And perhaps that is what offends us most of all …Jesus sees us as children (needy, vulnerable, unworthy but valued beyond measure). Jesus is adamant about us embracing our identity as God’s children. Jesus says, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
If we are willing to accept the fact that God cherishes us as His treasured children, we will need to differentiate between what it means to be childlike and childish.
A childlike person walks by faith in God as Abba, whereas a childish person chooses a lifestyle of fear and anxious toil. The childish are enslaved to lives of fear and timidity; but the childlike receive the confident spirit of adoption as sons, by whom they cry, “Abba! Father!”
The childish person is absorbed in nowadays news (Fox, CNN, etc.). The childish person is engrossed in superficial socializing (perennially discussing Netflix shows, and preoccupied with their self-image on Instagram). The childish person allocates all their time and energy in gossip and grumbling.
The childlike person fixates and feasts on the supernatural and scandalous stories, prophecies, and poems of God’s Word. The childish person voids their life of joy by chronically comparing their station, status, and stuff with the station, status, and stuff of other people. The childlike person is content to seek first the kingdom of heaven. The childish lust for the fading and fickle lies of mammon. The childlike live day by day relying on manna and receiving reminders to trust God from the birds of the air. The childish cause fights because they desire and do not have; they covet and cannot obtain, so they fight and quarrel. The childlike simply ask their Father for what they need, and their Father gives good things to them on His terms and in His timing. The childish fabricate “solutions.” The childlike savor God’s stories. The childish contrive “clarifications.” The childlike steward the mysteries of God and embrace supernatural confidence in Christ alone. When encountering the unfamiliar the childish get furious; but the childlike get curious. The childish keep a record of wrongs; but the childlike forgive others as they have been forgiven by Jesus. The childish are are harsh, critical, and judgmental. The childlike are long-suffering, generous, and patient. The childish police and punish others; the childlike choose to play and make friends for themselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may be received into the eternal dwellings.