Offensives Can Blur Our View-Part 2 (Guest Writer-Sheyanne Brown)

REFLECTION BASED ON JONAH

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Jonah had answered a call, preached the Word, and watched the glory fall. Can you imagine watching as everyone in your city falls to their knees in repentance and worship? Can you imagine watching the Holy Spirit blow through and cleanse the land, healing, restoring, and delivering right before your eyes? Jonah saw this very thing. He saw an entire people group turn wholeheartedly to the Lord.

But instead of riding the waves of glory, he found himself alone and angry outside the gates. How was it possible for him to physically be in a place where the glory of God was so overwhelming, yet not experience Him at all?

I can’t really pick on Jonah because I am Jonah. Jonah was offended at the people God had called Him to minister to, and as a result, he missed out on revival. He missed out on what God was doing in the land. He missed out on the healing, the refreshment, the growth. He missed out on the most valuable thing in the world… the tangible presence of Almighty God.

In every church service that I’ve ever attended, God has been there. Whether or not I experienced Him had nothing to do with the location, leadership, or style of worship, but had everything to do with the condition of my heart.  What I discovered through that early morning conversation with Jesus was that I have a responsibility to keep my heart pure, and I’m the only one who can do it.

When we experience wounds, our initial tendency is to withdraw. Withdraw from the people who hurt us, from people who could potentially hurt us, even withdraw from God. The pain makes our head spin, makes us question everything and everyone, causes us to retreat. At the end of the day, it’s just a survival response.

God isn’t mad at us for experiencing or acknowledging pain. Hurt is not your fault, hurt is a natural result of living in a fallen world. Good Christians are going to hurt you. People who love you are going to hurt you, even though they don’t want to. Hurt is going to happen. It’s ok to not be ok, it’s just not ok to stay that way.

If we allow our hearts to stay in a place of hurt, eventually the wound is going to turn into an offense.

            A better description of offense is bitterness or a grudge. An offended heart holds on to the hurt and refuses to heal. An offended heart finds every reason why its bitterness is justified, and doesn’t mind telling other people about it. An offended heart is heavily guarded against anyone who reminds it of the person who hurt it. An offended heart nurses and rehearses what happened and uses its pain as an excuse. An offended heart cannot grow past the place of its pain.

            When I gave Jesus permission to see into my heart, I realized that I had both hurt and offense living inside. My fresh hurts were beginning to scab over and turn into offenses because I had turned to isolation instead of intimacy. Instead of drawing near to God and his people for healing, I had turned inward into my own feelings and had been nursing my wounds on my own. And if we’re going to be honest… I didn’t want my hurt to heal because if it did then it felt the same as me saying that what “they” did was ok.

My hurts had morphed into offenses, my offenses were sin, and that sin was preventing me from experiencing the presence of God.

In my previous church, I was offended at some of the people in the room. I didn’t expect to experience God because I didn’t expect that God would move through the people I didn’t like. (Does this sound like Jonah?)

I would enter church with an impure heart, and my experience would then further justify my feelings. I wasn’t feeling God’s presence, and I thought it was because He wasn’t there.

When I came to Freedom Fellowship and began experiencing the Lord, it was because no one in the room had hurt me and I was not offended at anyone. I expected to experience God, and I did.

My heart breaks at the realization that all that time I spent not feeling or hearing God could have been prevented if I had just kept my heart pure.

I would like to propose that God desires to manifest Himself to His people. I would like to propose that God is always speaking, is never silent, and is always present where two or more are gathered in His name. I would like to propose that the lack of revival in American churches has much to do with the offended state of the hearts of the people that fill the pews. When we turn on the switch of offense, we create a block in the current of the Holy Spirit. But when we repent and forgive, we remove the block and allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through us.

As we well know, hurt is unavoidable.

There is no perfect church because there are no perfect people.

TO BE CONTINUED…

One thought on “Offensives Can Blur Our View-Part 2 (Guest Writer-Sheyanne Brown)

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  1. Love this post! I’d not thought of ‘offense’ as being a sin, but it does keep your heart focused on negative interactions rather than forgiveness and openness to GOD. Thank you 😉

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