A Stone for Stumbling

Isaiah 8:14 (NIV)
He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
Romans 9:31-33 (NIV)
31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”
33 As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
I am becoming persuaded that the foundation to see change in people is not sound theology; it is Love. Without love, our theology is like a boat without oars. Love is what drove God to send and sacrifice his Son. Love is what led Christ to subject himself to the cross. Love is what causes him to seek and save the lost. The problem is that we don’t want ministry that demands love that is difficult. We don’t want to serve others in a way that requires personal sacrifice. We prefer to lob grenades of truth into people’s lives rather than lay down our lives for them. But this is exactly what Christ did for us: He laid down His life for us. Can we expect to be called to do anything less?

People are watching to see if Christians are for real and to see if God is for real. In the book Unchurched, the authors research found out that only 2 percent of those who don’t attend church do so because they don’t believe in God. The other 98 percent stay away because they, for a variety of reasons, don’t like what they see when they look at the church. Our actions toward people in need can go a long way toward demonstrating to the skeptics what authentic Christianity looks like, whether its seen up-close or from a distance. What matters is not the personal joy of sending words out of our mouth (or keyboard), but the impact they have on the other end. Original intent is one thing; received impact can be quite another. All too often, after a statement has landed crosswise on the hearer, we find ourselves backpedaling. There is simply no getting around the adage, “Communication is not what I say; it’s what you hear.”

If we are honest we will have to admit that certain things about our faith are unattractive. We can’t pretend that everybody is going to love every part of the Christian message. Some parts are hard to swallow. As we read above Jesus is said to be a “stumbling stone.” For those who are troubled at the “nonnegotiables” we must let them wrestle seriously and honestly. We should not make matters worse by thoughtless actions on our part. The cross may be offensive to some, but as his ambassadors we should not be. If someone wishes to reject Jesus because he claimed to be the only way to God, so be it. But let them never reject Jesus because his truth was distorted or poorly demonstrated by a human spokesperson. We should not be a “stumbling stone.” Let us not make the leap pf faith any harder than it needs to be by our extraneous misstatements and off-putting behavior. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 14:13 (NIV),Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” How much more so for the person who is only thinking about whether to enter the family of God?
During your time of prayer and fasting ask God to see if there is any offensive way in you. Pray that you will not be a “stumbling stone.”

2) 1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

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