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The Gospel Is… Offensive
When we think of the Gospel, the overwhelming message of love captivates our hearts, as it should. Something in our inner-most being adores sacrificial love. After years of being saved, it still gets to me and it always will. It is the hands down the greatest love story ever told. There’s another side to the Gospel however, it can be incredibly offensive.
Some people simply don’t like hearing that they cannot save themselves.
Let’s take a look at the Pharisees, who may have been the people who got on Jesus’s nerves the most. They went through such great lengths to achieve holiness and righteousness, doing their absolute best to earn their own salvation. They were slaves to a law that was impossible to follow. There was a rule for practically everything… How you ate. How you dressed. When you worked. Who you spoke to. Animals you touched.
That’s exhausting to even think about… being tied to an impossible goal (yet they clung to it). Then Jesus comes along and pretty much says (obviously paraphrasing here):
“Yeah, all that stuff you guys are doing… it doesn’t matter. It’s not good enough. Yeah. You follow more rules then anyone, know the law better then anyone and stay away from unclean things more then anybody… but that’s not good enough. Only my life is good enough”.
The Pharisees continued to scoff at Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Although salvation was there through him, they insisted on doing it their own way, trying to earn their own salvation, sticking to their own impossible goal.
Even today, this type of thinking still exists. Although people who think this way don’t come off as self-righteous or have the same elitist attitude that the Pharisees made famous, their theology, at the roots, is comparable to that of the Pharisees.
When we get outside our ultra comfortable Christian circles and talk to the un-churched population, one of the most common views on heaven and salvation is “I’m a good person. I do my best to not do anything wrong. I love my family, I pay my taxes and for the most part I am honest. I think that heaven is for the good people, and if I do my best to be a good person, I’ll end up there”. Just like the Pharisees, they believed doing the right things and following a standard is the way to salvation. The Gospel response to that type of moral living as a means to salvation is the same response Jesus had to the Pharisees.
Not. Good. Enough.
For the most part, societies have a standard of a “good” person. We see this person as a human who is doing their best to live a “good” life and obeying the law and plays by the rules. Here’s the offensive part of the Gospel, we are fallen. Our good deeds are worthless. I completely understand why that’s tough to chew on for a lot of people.
To fully understand the good news of Jesus our savior, we have to fully accept the bad news also. We are helpless sinners. We like to give ourselves credit and pat ourselves on the back when we do good, but in reality, our good deeds don’t save us. Jesus saves us. In a world where you get what you pay for and that’s the bottom line, the Gospel is completely counter-cultural.
His life, and only his life is good enough to please the father and good enough to save. That leads into the other offensive side of the Gospel: if we truly believe in the whole Gospel, we also believe that every other religion is false because no other religion preaches the saving power of Jesus. The Gospel looks at other people, entire countries who diligently follow other religions, hold their traditions close to their hearts, do good things, raise their families around these teachings and says, simply put, you guys are all wrong. Harsh.
So where does that put followers of the Gospel? People who follow a religion that others view as offensive and close minded? What are we to do?
Love. Love and love some more.
The ones who hate us. Love them. The ones who oppose us, love them.
It’s completely possible to love other people, but stand firm in the truth of the Gospel. Is it hard? Yes. Does it lead to awkward conversations? Yes. Will people still hate you even though you respect them and love them, absolutely.
If you’re preaching a Gospel that doesn’t offend anyone, you may not be preaching it in it’s entirety. I’m not saying go out there and make it your goal to offend everyone. That’s pretty stupid, and those “Christians” give us all a bad name. When you do preach the Gospel though, preach it in it’s fullness, and know that offensiveness comes with the territory.
[box_help]Sound Off: Have you ever witnessed the Gospel offend anyone? Do you believe preachers often “soften” the gospel to draw in bigger crowds? How do you live in that tension that includes a beautiful truth that offends many?[/box_help]
About Jonathan RamoutarJonathan Ramoutar is a follower of Christ who is passionate about the church’s role in culture and male leadership. He is also an avid fan of the NFL (Tampa Bay Bucs) and NBA (Miami Heat).
Christian Shoddy is Still Shoddy
A tense cloud hovered above the desk that separated us....
- Posted 55 days ago
We Are Not Hoodlums.
I think we've all been there. You've scoured the Christian...
- Posted 57 days ago
Of Hobbits and Angels
After seeing the new Hobbit movie (in 3D nonetheless), and...
- Posted 66 days ago
Rags to Riches and Back to Rags Again
I love a good rags-to-riches story. Sam “Walmart” Walton sold...
- Posted 77 days ago
Are We There Yet?
A few months ago, my family and I moved from...
- Posted 85 days ago
Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)