At a certain point, when you feel led or seek to challenge a brother or sister (remember: do so with gentleness and love), you are basically saying that you have received instruction from opposition, challenge or offense yourself. And get ready! You are now the life to be analyzed. People should be able, within biblical reason, to size you up by what you DO to ascertain if they will heed what you SAY. Yes Virginia, this is the rub.
We should, at the point of leading, mentoring, discipling…what-have-you, be able to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Few are this bold anymore. But we can figure this stuff out! The Spirit is available to us, whether we are novices or old pros, to Help and guide and equip us for growth or exemplified growth. We all need both a Barnabas and a Timothy—somebody a little ahead of us and somebody following behind. Trouble and calamity find us if we want or desire neither. Lopsidedness finds us if we only want one, leaving either the back door or the front door open for flesh and sin. Paul modeled this. And most of us would say that Paul didn’t NEED anybody, he was so on fire with the Lord himself. But how would we all be faring nowadays if he didn’t set this bar high?
Paul knew, as Jesus is teaching me now, that we must pass on what we have learned and how we walk to the younger generation as it was painstakingly passed on to us. Offense and challenge are healthy, biblical tools to be used for the equipping of the saints and the growth of any body of believers. When bathed in prayer and Spirit, these tools are used precisely and constructively to allow us to NOT stay the same. Oh yeah, newsflash, contrary to popular pathetic theology, God does not “like you just the way you are.” He accepts you into His love where you are at, and while we we yet sinners—trapped—He died for us….but He definitely loves us enough to not leave us just the way we are.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give my flesh room enough to stay the way I am. I want to get to where God can more fully use me, deploy me, and receive pleasure in my life gone sacrifice. And, coincidently, God has used other, godly brothers and sisters to love me enough to hurt my feelings with truth. Yes, I did say that. We need to have our feelings hurt sometimes! Weight training tears your muscles up until they grow. Distance running burns your lungs until they get used to working harder. The Lord chastises and disciplines His sons and daughters because He loves them, and darn it, He uses gruff and brazen folks as His messengers of challenge (even people we don’t like!)…much too much to our chagrin.
Bottom line, if we want to grow, we will face offense, the dying of our flesh, the laying down of rights, and the pummeling of our ways. We are being shaped, in a blessed hammering process, into being more Christlike.
These are things we should keep in mind on both ends of offending and being the offendee.