by Matt Clark
From the series: “The Gospel 101: The Offensive Gospel”
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Think of the most offensive thing that has happened to you.
Now ask yourself why you were offended by that incident.
It seems to me that we live in a time when people are offended easily and many times, over things of little or no significance. I can prove that statement by opening up the comment section of a YouTube video and reading some of the posts. A lot of times people lose their minds over nothing. Literally nothing.
Ever since my wife gave birth to our first child, I have paid more attention to the political discussion going on in our country. If we were bringing children into the world, I wanted to know what kind of world they would be living in. I found out quickly that people are easily offended when politics are discussed. (If you don’t believe me, try bringing up our current President at your next family reunion and see what happens.)
So why is this happening? What is it that causes a person to be offended? Here is my theory; a person feels offended when they believe some wrong or injustice has happened to them or someone else. Here is my other theory; it’s not always wrong to be offensive.
I say this because the Gospel is offensive.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
The Gospel is offensive because it DEMANDS that we change our actions.
In verse 6 of this passage, we see Jesus make the most offensive claim in Scripture; “no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Think about the implications of this verse. Jesus is claiming that it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. It doesn’t matter all the good deeds you have done. Only Jesus brings salvation.
What about those who follow other religions? Those who worship other gods? Think of how offensive Jesus’ words are to them. This passage tells us that other gods don’t bring you eternal life; only Jesus does.
In my opinion, one of the most famous offenders in recent memory was Simon Cowell from American Idol (a singing competition). So many people would audition in front of him only to be confronted with reality in a British accent. There was no guessing Simon’s opinion of the singer. If they were bad, he would let them know. As you can imagine, this resulted in a lot of hurt feelings.
This begs the question; was it wrong for Simon to be so brutally honest? I don’t think so. He was telling the truth. In fact, one could say the parents and friends of the person auditioning were to blame. They were telling the singers that they had talent when they clearly did not. They were giving them false hope. Simon’s honesty with the singers was something they were not used to hearing. Being humiliated in front of the millions watching on television showed them that their dreams of being a performer in the music industry needed to change.
People are often offended when they are told to change their actions.
This is what made Jesus so offensive. It wasn’t that He was saying anything rude. He was speaking the truth that people didn’t want to hear. He was speaking the truth that demanded the people change their actions. The Gospel requires us to leave things behind. The Gospel requires us to completely change our worldview. The Gospel insists that Jesus become the most important aspect of your entire being.
You should be offensive.
I can’t imagine your parents ever spoke that statement to you. We are taught the opposite. I will push back on that idea and tell you to offend people, in context. Someone once told me that if you are not being persecuted for your faith in any way, then you are not doing enough for God. Jesus offended people; do you?
If you are regularly sharing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, then you will ruffle some feathers. If this is done in love, being offensive is acceptable. Here are two things to consider when sharing the gospel:
No one likes to be told they need to change. It’s a very offensive thing to hear. This is why it is crucial that we spend time in prayer daily. It is easy to get defensive when someone speaks badly to you; especially when you’re telling them about Jesus. Prayer will help prepare your heart for the inevitable confrontation that you will face. Prayer will help you overlook the hurtful words and see the person that God wants to save.
Have the right motivation.
Ask yourself why you are telling this person about Jesus. Is it to lead this person to Christ or are you simply trying to win the argument? Don’t make Jesus a political debate to win. Someone once said, “it’s not about winning the argument, it’s about winning the soul.”
If people are not being offended by your words or lifestyle, chances are you are not living out the Gospel as well as you should be. Grow in your relationship with Christ and live a life that is offensive. Go ahead, you have permission.