You know the scene. Here comes the meltdown. Your teenaged daughter Trish has been way out of control. She has come home late, stayed up late, not done her homework and has a new friend you’re not so sure of. So you “lay down the law” and inflict some punishment for good measure. You take the cell phone and the remote. Now she asks you to go to a sleep-over with her friends. She promises to be good and is pleading with those eyes. Your answer of course is no. If you’re a typical parent you will toss in a jab about “learning a lesson” or some other unstable plutonium trigger. Boom! There it is. She explodes. Now right there in the restaurant she has a meltdown. She sobs and pleads and begs and makes promises she could never keep and concludes with the phrase all parents dread “I hate you! You don’t let me do anything!” You have just witnessed the rebellious resentment reaction. I bet you didn’t know that it is normal, it is in the Bible and God has a plan for it.
God has emphasized choice above all else in His relationship with us. In the garden He could have hidden or never even created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Instead he put it in the center of the garden. Choices… God made us in His image and gave us dominion over the Earth. He made us for greatness. He made us to be kings and rulers over this creation. The devil was clever enough to tap into this nature God gave us and use it against us. He turned what was meant for good into a stumbling block or snare for us. He suggested God was the bad guy and was holding out on us. He said the forbidden fruit was awesome and would make us like God. We already were like God (made in His image). The devil was squeezing us just like Mom with teenage Trish. Then we got poisoned with rules and lists and law and conditions and performance and all that junk that came from one poisoned bite. We hid in the bushes instead of seeking God for answers.
God knows this about us. So what is the deal? It is an important question for many. When I was struggling with alcohol I can tell you that when someone said “NO” to me I had my own meltdowns. It actually forcefully drove me deeper into chemical escape. The euphoria of the bottle was way better than the “NO” of anyone. I expect there are many out there that can relate. Religion made it worse because it piled on a whole bunch of guilt and condemnation and shame. Instead of looking to God for the answers I hid in the bushes to escape His disappointment. I begged for Him to take away something He never gave me. I blamed Him for my situation and assumed He wouldn’t make it better until I “learned my lesson.” I believed that He wanted me to learn more willpower and better decision-making and all that stuff. If you didn’t know… all of that was a lie! God is for us. He has always been for us. I was blaming the wrong guy. I had made Jesus my stumbling block. I was looking to escape condemnation and acquire freedom when I was already declared righteous and delivered. I had to learn who God was and how much He loved me. I am still learning.
For now I know that since God is for me I can change the circumstance that used to drive me to drink. I know that in my pressure cooker of life Jesus gives me peace and joy. When I remember this, the desire for escape becomes the passion to seek Jesus. I cry “help me Jesus” and He always does. The circumstance that used to drive me to drink is an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified. The momentary euphoria of a bottle pales in comparison to the eternal ecstasy in His love. God isn’t squeezing me by rules. He knows it causes my rebellious resentment reaction. He is squeezing His love into me. I am reminded how awesome He is and powerful He is in me. Then I make powerful choices.
All this is in the Bible. There is a Greek word for “to stumble” or “trip up” or “snare” or “cause offense” or “fall into a trap.” It is the verb skandalizó or the noun skandalon. Yep it is the root of our English word “scandal.” Here is the noun in context.
Rom 9:33 as it is written, “ Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense (skandalon); and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESVST)
The religious opposed Jesus. He was a stumbling block, a source of offense, a snare and a trap for them. Their worship was their god of religion not the God of Abraham. Jesus even said they didn’t know their father from Heaven but instead they knew their father the devil (not my words). Jesus was against their self-righteous self-effort. Instead of God they worship their rules and themselves. Notice that Jesus shows the way out. “ Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” That doesn’t sound like squeezing anyone by rules.
Jesus says our blessing is found when we aren’t offended or tripped up by Him and what He did (and still does through us today!).
Luke 7:22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended (skandalizó) by me.” (ESVST)
When we judge others as believers and call it God we create an opportunity for others to be offended with God. We make Jesus a stumbling block.
Rom 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance (skandalon) in the way of a brother. (ESVST)
This one should really get your attention. How often is God blamed for stuff He didn’t do? How often are new believers told “it is just a honeymoon” so they put their disappointment on God when the enemy brings pressure. How many times have I heard “that isn’t real, it isn’t that good and you need some balance.” Isn’t that causing a little one to stumble?
Mat 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin (skandalizó), it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (ESVST)
God is not squeezing you with rules. He said that is over in Jesus. He is squeezing you with Jesus. He knows you will react like a porcupine when He puts you under the pressure of rules. He knows you will make Him your source of offense, you will resent Him. Look, even the prodigal was released by his father to pursue his stupidity. The father gave him the money to do it. God wants you to come to Him by your own choice. He wants you to be in a relationship with Him by your own choice.
Let me suggest that this reaction to pressure is actually your greatest attribute. When you stop blaming God, your rebellious resentment reaction will have you destroying the works of the devil with passion. Don’t make God your stumbling block. He isn’t trying to control you. He is trying to love you. Let Him. If you feel a meltdown coming on it isn’t from God. Maybe it is you having a bad day and you forgot to yell “Jesus, help me.” Maybe it is the enemy filling you with lies about Jesus. Maybe the devil is squeezing you to see what oozes out. Won’t he be surprised when what oozes out looks like Jesus! Maybe it is time to stomp on the head of the enemy and stop taking his abuse. No more rebellious resentment reactions towards God. God is for us!