Offensive

offensive

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Galatians 1:10)

Read: Isaiah 15:1 – 18:7, Galatians 1:1-24, Psalm 58:1-11, Proverbs 23:12

Relate: In the first sermon preached by anybody in the very first church in history, harsh words were spoken. Very harsh words. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood in front of a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem. He said, “God publicly endorsed Jesus. You knew this, you saw the miracles and yet you killed Him. With the help of the lawless gentiles, you nailed Him to that cross.” Peter accused his listeners of knowingly rebelling against God and, even worse in their eyes, in consorting with their most hated enemy to do so. Peter pulled no punches.

In the very next chapter, Peter is doing it again: “You rejected and handed over Jesus to Pilate. In fact, Pilate wanted to let Him go but you insisted this holy, righteous man be killed and demanded Pilate release a murderer instead. You killed the author of life.”

Moving one more chapter into the book of Acts we see more of the same. Before the Temple elders Peter says, “You killed Jesus but God raised Him from the dead.” In case the religious leaders didn’t get the fact that Peter is declaring them enemies of God, he says it again later on, “We aren’t going to obey you. We are going to obey God.” To a group that claimed to represent and speak for God, nothing could be more offensive.

React: Today there is a lot we could learn from the early church. In order to counter the often very just and true accusation that we are unloving and intolerant, we have shied away from being honest. Some of us, acknowledging that old adage, “truth hurts” turn and use truth like a sledgehammer beating and bruising the ones God loves. The rest of us, shying away from the abuse of truth by those claiming to be Christians, try to avoid speaking truth altogether.

We can learn from Peter. He spoke a hard truth, but he also spoke the whole truth. “You have done this evil, but God turned it to good. You killed Jesus but He can now redeem You. This promise is for you, your kids, and… everyone.” This promise is for confederate flag-waving, white hooded conservatives, and rainbow flag-waving flamboyant liberals. This promise is for crooked cops and rioting thugs. This promise is for German NAZI’s and Soviet Commies. This promise is for Palestinian Muslims and Orthodox Jews. This promise is for you and it’s for me. We are all filthy, evil sinners. We are also all loved and His grace is greater than all of our sin.

Respond: 

Dear God,
Forgive me for the times I have tried to hide my sin by highlighting the sin of others. Forgive me for the times I have tried to hide my own brokenness by condemning it in others. Forgive me also for the times I have tried to embrace acceptance by soft pedaling on hard truths. Forgive me for the times I have avoided speaking reality so that I might not be associated with those who revel in abusing the truth in their harshness. It is a hard balance to keep. Help me to walk it as you did.
Amen

 

20 thoughts on “Offensive

  1. Outstanding, BJ. A real reminder of how the truth needs to be told and yet is not comfortable nor convenient. Thanks for the wonderful picture of the cost of following the one true God. And the joy.

  2. I like what your saying because by our very nature in Christ Jesus we are offensive to the world. And yes even at times we can be abrasive towards others to scour off the residue of filth in order for the light to shine in on them.
    However, keeping peace at all cost is the way. Must say I’ve Learned this the hard way.

  3. What a timely post to read! I’ve often felt a tug when people talk about someone who is deceased and say, “They’re in a better place now.” Now, my thoughts can be pretty blunt sometimes, but I’m actually very compassionate and usually have the good sense to NOT say what I’m thinking. Still, when someone tries to be comforting by saying, “They’re with God now.” my first thought is, “Are you sure?” (I don’t SAY it! :/ But it is a good question.) And just tonight I read from a young woman this: “I got to recognize that I could have my own relationship and experience, that I didn’t need to believe as my parents did. I also found out that at least for me, there isn’t any ‘right way’ to God, Universe, what have you. It’s what’s right for me.” As Christians, it should make our hearts heavy to know there is a harvest of people who think they can customize God and get to Heaven simply by dying! Unfortunately, we live in a time when it can actually be dangerous to offend ANYONE over ANYTHING. But if we’re going to be offensive anyway, it may as well be for the salvation of those God loves.

  4. Oh, so that’s how Christians do it. You justify being offensive because it’s a holy cause. Then you can persecute for the same reason. That let’s you kill someone because they offend God. Now I know why Christians do so much evil and why I will never be one.

    • I wonder, did you even read the post? The entire thing is that there are two parts to the gospel story: 1) We are all evil. 2) But God is a good and loving God.
      All too often we are eager to soft play the first half of that message because it might sound too offensive. I was saying we can’t because then the second half loses its impact.
      How on earth did you move from that to Christians persecuting and killing others? If you really truly think that Christians are the ones going around killing others and doing evil then I am afraid you have lost touch with reality. That might sound offensive, but it is truth. There is no single greater force for good in our world than Christians who actively try to live out what Jesus called the greatest commandment.

      • Remember this line? “Ye shall know them by the works of their hands.” Best line the Bible! Words mean nothing! It’s what you do that reveals who you really are. Your particular level of self-deceit is so great you can’t hear what I am trying to say. I wouldn’t even try except my Love of God compels me to, You deny your guilt and dismiss others that don’t agree with your “truth”, then you won’t accept truth when it is presented to you. God sees it, I see it. Almost every person alive sees it. Yet, you and your collection of equality ignorant followers hide behind the Christian label and use it to justify anything you want, My view of reality is determined by first confirming it with God so I can find real truth. Your view of reality seems to allow you to accept lies as truth. I’ll take my reality over yours any day and keep the great peace in my soul that God gave me. He also helps me maintain that peace every single day. After 66 years of experiencing that peace, I know I can always count on God.

        • You said, “Remember this line? “Ye shall know them by the works of their hands.” Best line the Bible!”

          Actually, that line isn’t in the Bible. Perhaps you meant Matthew 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruit.” Jesus continues on, “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Jesus later talks again about recognizing fruit. He says, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus’ brother, James, also refers to this analogy. He is also doing it right in the middle of a long speech on being careful of what we say. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
          The very idea that “words mean nothing” runs completely contradictory to the line you misquoted when saying, “You will know them by the works of their hands”. When quoted properly and used in context, that very line you called the best in the Bible was talking specifically about the importance of what we say.

          You went on a long rant for the rest of your comment about 1) how I don’t understand what you are trying to say, 2) how evil I am, and 3) how I use the Christian label to justify anything I want. If you feel that I am not understanding what you are saying, I apologize. I am willing to engage with you in this conversation for as long as it takes for mutual understanding to be reached. I also promise not to stoop to petty name-calling and slander to achieve that goal.
          I agree with the second part. Outside the saving grace of God, I am hopelessly evil. So are you. So are we all. That was the entire thrust of the post called “offensive” which you seem to have taken such offense about.
          On the third point, I cannot disagree more strongly. Christianity is defined by three short simple statements. Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus saves. A Christian is someone who believes this and is now doing their best to follow in His ways. There is the rare occasion some evil person uses the label “Christian” to commit some evil atrocity. Normally Christians are not the ones strapping bombs to their chests and such nonsense, but I will not say it never happens. On those rare occasions it does, you will find the vast majority of those calling themselves Christians quickly and loudly condemning such acts. Rather than using the Christian label to justify evil and persecution, it is Christians, because they are Christians, who are most often at the forefront of those trying to bring peace and justice and care to the downtrodden and oppressed. Without Christian groups like World Vision, Samaritans Purse, and Compassion international, there would be literally millions more starving, dying of treatable diseases, and living in slavery. When we say, “my Love of God compels me” it is actions like these we are talking about.

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