Matthew 11:6; John 16:1
Now it is not disloyal to Christ to say this: that He not only masters men but mystifies them also. While He blesses them He bewilders them too, so incomparably higher are His ways and thoughts than ours. He persuades us to love and loyalty; but He puzzles us too, often to the point of distraction. He certainly answers the questions of our hearts; but at the same time He arouses even more than He answers. And in the life of every true believer of Him, there will always be, as there was in His own, some great unanswered "Why?" None of us will ever be exempt from the need of acquiring by faith and patience the blessedness of the unoffended.
For think of an ordinary and typical instance of offence. It is not commonly a matter of open backsliding, of heartless renunciation of the truth, or of bitter denial of past experience. Rather does it begin with the disappointment of some hope, the failure of an expectation, the weariness of an unanswered prayer, or the ache of a heart which seems to evoke no sympathetic answer from God. All this generates an unspoken and almost unspeakable distrust; and as we brood over it, a sense of injustice grows, a feeling that we have not been treated quite fairly by Christ, which becomes positive resentment. Until, after ia while, His yoke becomes irksome; we challenge His right to control our lives so; and it all ends in a secret repudiation of His mastership, and often in an outward renunciation also of all spiritual interests and aims. This is a typical cause of offence in Christ. And how many there are all around us of whose lives it is a true description! From small beginnings of distrust the largest disasters grow. If two parallel lines are produced into infinity, there will never be any variation of the distance between them. But let them diverge at any point by only a hair's breadth. Then the farther they are produced, the wider the divergence becomes, until at length there is a universe of distance between them. So with our fellowship with Christ. The smallest distrust or disobedience is charged with the potentiality of the infinite; and if undiscovered and unchecked, will eventually put an eternity of distance between the soul and the Saviour. If, therefore, we can estimate some of the unchanging certainties of discipleship; explore some, at least, of the perilous causes of offence in Christ; and at the same time also establish a new relationship of implicit trust with our Lord, we shall be saved from this threatening peril. And this is surely the aim of His forewarning Word.
(continued with # 5)