John 6:61—”Does this offend you?”
Let it be stated that we do not, as believers, ever seek to offend each other for the fun of it and, especially, we should not try to offend nonbelievers for the sake of winning an argument or causing ourselves to appear superior. That is not the goal at all. Who cares about smartness or elitism. The goal in siding with biblical “rightness” or “uprightness,” as it is better called, is to side with truth. The truth of Christian growth and personal revival is found in obedience. I think that it is an understatement that siding with spiritual truth in acts of willful obedience to Scripture is anti-human, unfleshlike.
So, it should be clearly stated that offense, when employed with edification and spiritual growth in mind…is constructive and even helpful.
It seems to me, in the aforementioned Scripture in John 6 and in many other places, that Jesus was more concerned with knocking at the door of the inner man than tiptoeing around our feelings. He seemed to always speak to the one thing a man had trouble letting go of, ie. wealth, family, comfort, time. If you don’t hate your father, mother, sister, etc., if you don’t forsake comfort and everything—you get the idea. He knows what is in man and that it takes, many times, a chisel and hammer to get at that heart of stone.
Recently, I sat through a teaching given by a pastor from the south. It was a little old school, but seemed to contain deep layers of fresh, timeless truth. He said that, “The cross is an offense to everything which humans hold dear.” It shocks our senses…it mocks our values (not what we expect)…it blocks our pride…and it locks our hearts in forever, if yielded to. The Cross is the greatest offense ever. It is the message of the Cross of Christ that shows us there is no way we get to God on our own merit. “It is foolishness to the perishing, but to us it is THE POWER OF GOD.”
Let’s face it, the Cross was a scandal. Jesus, perfect, appeared on the Cross a red-handed criminal. The guiltless became guilty.
Could the cross ever appear “relevant” or nice? Could it ever penetrate our souls without first burning us where we stood? I think not. The cross IS offensive, it challenges my depths, it opposes all the skin-deep, self preservation I cling to.
What scares me today, is that we have a culture that refuses to be opposed, offended, or challenged. Without these godly methods of humbling, how in the world will we grow and become more like Jesus? We seem to constantly look for the path of least resistance, the peaceful, easy feelings. We are a world that love McDonalds, marijuana, and cheap thrills. Fast. Flashy. Fun. On and on and on…to the next cool thing. We have got to slow down and invest, develop a proving ground. But maybe we will discuss that more later….
With a church that wants to be so relevant and look so much like the world, it too has become allergic to spiritual challenges and good old-fashioned discipline. Let it be here stated, that this is not just a finger-pointing session to yell at the ever-screwy American Church. No, this is an attempt to offer solutions. The main point of all this is to spur on to righteousness, to challenge a new generation to the blessing of self-denial and stalwart discipleship. Who cares about being better, I want to be effective! If there were a tried-and-true, surefire way to grow exponentially with the Lord and simultaneously please Him…then I would write about it. I’m a self-proclaimed Revival freak; I want the Spirit to move mightily. I would be stupid to strongarm people or force a way that is not THE WAY. Why? To be cool? To be hip? To sell something? That too would be brought down as human effort and fallacy. NO flesh shall glory before Him.
Right now, in my life, I thank The Lord for a short leash from the Holy Ghost and a healthy fear that I will steal from His glory. His rod and His staff have surely comforted me by not allowing me to do or say whatever I want. In my understanding, you can’t argue with good doctrine. Discipline, brokenness, self-depreciation are all upside-down, biblical growth tools. Once any believer sets out in obedience to these many debasing verses, that believer grows. That is why it seems so true, like such a good idea. Basic, fundamental (uh oh) doctrine comes to life in a soldier of the Cross when the proper methods are applied with the power of the Spirit being added. We can indeed choose to grow right now, we can grasp the more…in the land of he living. We need His help in all this, but we must make the decision to venture out in faith.
But will we? When we know the good we ought to do and don’t do it, woe unto us.