offensive.

5 Apr

nobody’s perfect. we all make mistakes. i’ve made plenty. i’ll make plenty more.

and in the future, when i err, i’d like to err on the side of grace.

we’ve heard it said many times before by trendy authors and edgy preachers willing to push the limits and boundaries of comfort, as well as those of us who have a proclivity for proclaiming ‘truth’ ::

jesus was offensive. the gospel is offensive.’

‘some people just aren’t going to like it. jesus was a stumbling block to many.’ this usually comes with the implied perspective, ‘so if jesus is a stumbling block to you, just get out of my way. i’ve got work to do.’

yet it seems to me, as i spend time reading and re-reading the gospels, that jesus was not at all offensive to the disenfranchised, to the oppressed, to the despised and rejected. jesus was not all that offensive to sinners. in fact, he was attractive to them.

sure, he was a stumbling block to many… and offended many as well.

namely, the religious.

he got the religious leaders so worked up that they begged the roman authorities to kill him just to shut him up. he was too inclusive, too loved by the common people. too accepting of those the insiders deemed as Other.’ and he didn’t respect the status quo enough. he rocked the boat a little too much.

then he went so far as to claim that this was what God the father sent him to do.

‘crucify! crucify him! let his blood be on us and our children!’

they were offended all right.

makes me think || if we’re serious about following jesus – of remembering, celebrating and mimicking his life, of following his example in humble obedience to God – perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to be considered offensive to the religious.

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12 Responses to “offensive.”

  1. Ryan Copeland April 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM #

    Good post Mike. I must say, I find that when talking with other religious people/friends, they often do get offended by me, and I really try hard to stick straight to the scriptures. Here’s how I look at it. If I want to speak the truth, than I must speak from God’s Word, for his Word is truth. I try not to expand on it or interpret it to non-effect, but whenever I do this, people get offended! better the religious than the unbeliever, I guess. I have come to the conclusion that I must focus more on sharing Gods love and unrelenting grace with the lost, rather than arguing about doctrine with the believers. “He who has an ear, let him hear”. God has not given everyone an ear to hear, even people who ‘believe’ they are christians, and that is offensive. We must daily seek after Jesus and strive to know him deeper. We must become foolish in the world’s eyes, unfortunately, when we take Jesus at his word, we are seen as foolish by the ‘religious’ as well today.

    I always enjoy reading your posts, very thought provoking. God bless.

    • the WayWard follower April 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM #

      thanks for reading, ryan.

      ‘context and usage determine meaning.’ it’s fascinating to read the passages where jesus declares, ‘he who has an ear, let him hear,’ in that light.

      let me know what you find.

      glad you’re enjoying the posts.

  2. motherofgirls April 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM #

    Yes, Jesus was offensive to the self-righteous Jewish religious leaders. But don’t forget, Paul was run out of more than one pagan city for taking on the established polytheistic order. And it was the secular Roman authority that persecuted Christians.

    The Gospel makes universal demands. “Repent, turn to God, and prove your repentance by your righteous actions.” This message is offensive to everyone who wants to be in charge of their own lives.

  3. Mick April 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM #

    Not sure of the context of which you are relating, but I can relate personal experiences of the Gospel being offensive. Most recently while traveling with a group of new age moralists declaring that all ways lead to heaven if you just be “a good person.” They knew I was the only Christian in the group, easy pickins they must have thought. They found that my “opinion” that no one could “be good enough” according to God’s standard, and that for that reason only faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice could get you to heaven very offensive and told me so in their angry out burst!

    The Gospel is also offensive to the principalities of this world which have outlawed it and made it a capitol offense. Which is why Jesus encourages us on the sermon of the mount, “10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “

    • the WayWard follower April 9, 2012 at 7:42 AM #

      thanks for reading, mick. certainly when we think of those around the world who are persecuted for their faith in jesus our hearts hurt – and we’re reminded how fortunate we are to be found in our current circumstances (where we were born, where we live, et cetera). i think with that comes not only a sense of humility, but a sense of tremendous responsibility to make a difference.

      i wonder what our neighbors and governments would say if instead of trying to convert people to our ‘right way’ of thinking, we concentrated on loving God and loving others in christ’s example of servanthood and selflessness? surely that wouldn’t be outlawed or considered offensive…

      • Mick April 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM #

        Not sure what you mean by “trying to convert people to our ‘right way’ of thinking”? There is only one Gospel. amen!?! Perhaps you are confusing the gospel with some other issue??

        “surely that wouldn’t be outlawed or considered offensive…” what wouldn’t, loving and serving, or the gospel?

        The gospel is very much outlawed in some nations. Sharing it and proclaiming it can be a death sentance. In China, for example, it is illegal to teach children about Jesus.

        I study, follow, and pray for saints in persecuted nations because we can learn so much from them. They do love and serve, even dedicated and literal enemies, but that does not make the gospel any less offensive to some.

        But even here at home, outside our comfortable christian circles, it is offensive. Like my example above, I simply shared that no one is just a “good” enough person to make it to heaven, but good news! Jesus was sent to take our just punishment upon himself so that we might be saved! Well, they had carved gods in their own image and God’s way was very much offensive. They told me so with some very colorfull language. One person in particular could barley contain himself and kept yelling, “do you even hear yourself, how offensive you are?” If I was not in America I may have been beaten and left to die (I do recall this happening to the disciples on occasion!).

        But they had to hear it. Now I’ll not see most of them ever again, but the one that I will may be won over by my living witness of loving and serving. And I’m not suggesting a ‘right way of thinking’, whatever that is, but won over to the gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation.

      • the WayWard follower April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM #

        thanks for sharing your thoughts, mick…and i do think we often confuse the gospel for something else. for more of my thoughts on jesus and the gospel click here

      • Mick April 10, 2012 at 7:12 AM #

        Michael, re-reading your reply and post, I thought maybe it best we worked through some clarification…

        You quote, “‘jesus was offensive. the gospel is offensive.’” I agree. He is and His message of salvation is offensive to some. You don’t have to go far into the Acts of the Apostles to see the example (Acts 4). And poor Paul, run out of town and stoned and left for dead all because of the gospel…

        But then you turn “the gospel” into converting “people to our ‘right way’ of thinking” So which is it you are speaking of: the gospel or this “right way of thinking”?

        I am talking about The Gospel, the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
        – that we are sinners seperated from a Holy God
        – that God so loved us in spite of our sin and sent His Son as a sacrifice on our behalf
        – that by faith in Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and reseruction we are forgiven our sins and given eternal life in heaven

        I also have to assume that the source you quoted was talking about the gospel…

        So just to clarify, in my comments I am talking about the gospel. Nothing more, nothing less. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'” (Romans 1:16-17)

        “But many who heard the message believed… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:4,12)

      • the WayWard follower April 11, 2012 at 10:09 AM #

        here are some interesting thoughts on ‘the gospel’ from scot mcknight and his (relatively) new book, ‘the king jesus gospel.’

        contemporary evangelicals have built a ‘salvation culture’ but not a ‘gospel culture.’ we’ve reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation.

        have you read it?

      • the WayWard follower April 11, 2012 at 10:49 AM #

  4. Ryan Copeland April 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM #

    Mick, I can’t speak for Michael, but in reading the back-and-forth here I would interject this thought. Mike said

    “if instead of trying to convert people to our ‘right way’ of thinking, we concentrated on loving God and loving others in christ’s example of servanthood and selflessness?”

    Now, I see in American Christianity this need to ‘convince’ people they are ‘going to hell’ and ‘need to accept Jesus’. But that is not what salvation is. That is what we have reduced it to– An ‘escape clause’. We tell people that if they don’t believe what we believe then they wont go to heaven; and 9 out of 10 times we don’t know what we believe or believe something that is unscriptural. This is how I view Michael’s comment about ‘right way’ of thinking.

    If only we focused on loving all men as Christ did, and sharing His love (that doesn’t necessarily mean preaching at them) with them in a real, tangible way; I believe people would see something different in us and ask us why? “Why do you show me respect? why do you think I’m worth anything? Why do you love me, I have nothing to offer you?” That is the opportune time to share what Christ did for them. I think that is a greater witness than passing out tracks or trying to convince someone that christianity is a ‘better way of living’. And I think that is probably what all those ‘sinners’ asked Jesus all the time. That is why he was so ‘attractive’ to them. He did not tell them “accept me or go to hell!”

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