Some people can’t be helped. Jesus Christ is one of them.
Many Christians today are committed to the idea that, if they just get Jesus “right”, representing Him well by loving everyone enough, then His message will be received and good feelings will abound.
It’s a nice idea. It’s a comforting idea. It’s just not a biblical idea.
Remember the cliché about History? The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history. When it comes to our efforts to love people into heaven, we just can’t seem to learn from history, especially the history of The Messiah.
Jesus was good at a lot of things but he was especially good at being Jesus. He knew how to be Jesus better than anyone . . . and still managed to get himself killed. Why do we think we can do better? Why do we tell ourselves that if we only present Jesus accurately, people will be drawn to Him and we’ll get a warm bear hug wherever we go? And yet we soldier on, trying to convince people that Jesus isn’t offensive which is a major-league challenge when one of the names of the guy whose popularity we’re trying to increase is, “The Rock of Offense.”
And what is the basic message of this Offensive Rock? “My Way or the Highway to Hell: You Choose.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the father, except through me.” John14:6. It’s a statement guaranteed to start an argument. No amount of soft lighting, soft preaching, and the latest world-class worship vibe can soften that message.
It’s His love that makes Him so offensive. Jesus knows where you and I are headed without the salvation He offers. He’s been there. Sometimes being offensive is the most loving thing you can do.
Jesus loves people so much, he’s willing to offend their sensibilities. He knew they would kill Him for His Truth and He warned His true followers that they should expect the same from this world.
All men will hate you because of me. Matthew 10:22
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29
We can’t say we haven’t been warned.
If this message is obscured by our attempts to “love” people, to be liked, or to be culturally relevant so no one could ever be offended, we are not preaching the Jesus of the Bible, we are not telling the Truth, and we’re not loving people.
Sacrificing Truth on the Alter of “getting along” and not offending anyone may feel good in the moment but it isn’t a loving act. It’s self-deception . . . and worse. The other person is being deceived, too, being given comfort where none is.
“Feel Good Christianity” may be good at protecting feelings but it gets people hurt. “We’re just trying to love people” so the claim goes but Jesus never asks His followers to love people more than He does.
It’s a twisted effort at deflecting negativity, valuing what people think of us over the reproach that comes from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In some cases it may be a sincere effort to protect Jesus’ image, but real biblical love is willing to risk real offense. Real love says what needs to be heard.
If someone is headed for Hell, he doesn’t need to be made comfortable for the ride.
He needs to hear God’s Truth from you and from me – the True Gospel – the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes – Romans 1:6.
And, what is that True Gospel?
- You are a Law Breaker. Check out the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. If you’ve broken one, you’re guilty before God. Those who are guilty will experience the wrath of God and spend eternity in Hell, separated from Him.
- There is a way out. To escape this fate, God provided a way for Justice to be served: The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- You must repent. What must you do to be saved? Repent before God of the sins you’ve committed and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. When we come face to face with the fact that we’ve sinned there is no mistake – we know we are guilty and in need of a Savior.
Yes, Jesus is the loving Bridegroom, drawing all people to himself – If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself, John 12:32 – and He also said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light. But, speaking the Truth in love never obscures from people the hard edge of Grace that challenges everyone to choose or lose.
People won’t come to Faith because we were deemed nice enough and avoided saying anything offensive. They will come the way they always have, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10:17. And, to most, The Word (the Bible) and The Living Word – Jesus Christ – are offensive.
Among the fruits of the Spirit (the manifestation of Him in our lives – Galatians 5:22-23) are peace, gentleness, and kindness but even Jesus, filled with these characteristics, did not avoid bringing deep offense. True disciples of Jesus can’t either.
Now, if the offense is coming from you and me, then shame on us. We’re walking in the flesh, not the Spirit, bringing reproach to the Name. Even so, as followers of The Rock of Offense in a culture that (falsely) holds tolerance as a supreme value but bans Jesus from every public gathering because He and His Word are offensive, we need to face the fact that no amount of Spirit filling will obscure the reproach of Christ. The god of this world wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jesus has expressly stated that His enemies are our enemies – that anyone who witnesses of Him will, at some point, be hated. But, he said more . . .
In Matthew 10, Jesus tells His disciples that He is sending them out as sheep among wolves. Think about that for a minute – not a pretty picture. But, then in verse 33, he gives them (us!) a grave warning,
“ . . . but, whosoever denies me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 And, he’s not talking about being willing to vote for him in the local popularity contest. He’s talking about being willing to bear His reproach before a mocking world.
No-offense Christianity comes at a terrible price.
Will you stand with The Rock of Offense, truly loving people by witnessing of the Truth before hearts made hard by sin, or will you focus on making people on the road to Hell comfortable during their journey?
Matt is married to Lisa Jacobson; they are raising their eight children in the Pacific Northwest. Matthew is an author, speaker, blogger, and pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship. Matthew and Lisa are also the authors of the best-selling “his-and-her” marriage books, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife.