Now theres an interesting fact. Jesus really is offensive, but offensive towards what?
One of the first times we see anyone being offended by Jesus was John the Baptist (we could say Herod, but will move past him).
We know from scripture that John the Baptist didn’t live in a nice cosy 5 bedroomed house with a big 40″ widescreen TV eating kentucky and pizzas (:))…infact he wore clothes made of camel’s hair with a belt around his waste, lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and wild honey Matt 3:4. (ugh). He was the forerunner telling people to repent and be baptised as well as telling people that someone was coming who was greater than he.
So we know that Jesus was baptised by John, and John told his disciples to follow Jesus because John must decrease while Jesus increases John 3:30. Once this happened, John gets arrested because he kept picking on Herod because he had taken his brothers wife, so Herod imprisoned him. While John is in prison, he has his disciples going to him and telling him the things that Jesus is doing.. he realises that Jesus isn’t living in the wilderness or living off bugs and honey as he had? We can also speculate that John found out that Jesus attended a wedding and turned water into wine! What? You can imagine John thinking, hang on, how can this be right? So he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask him, ‘are you the one that I have been spending all this time in the desert for and telling people that you was coming to baptise in the Holy Spirit and fire…or did I get it wrong and we should expect someone else?’ Matt 11:2-3
Jesus told Johns disciples to go back to John and say:
And Jesus answered them, βGo and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.β Mt 11:4β6
Can you imagine how the Pharisees and teachers of the law felt when they came to Jesus and complained about the disciples because they ate without washing their hands? Errm.. Jesus, why do your disciples not wash their hands before they eat… Jesus quickly shoots them down “Its not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man but what comes out of it”. If that was me, I would have pretty much felt very small and stupid. The disciples went to Jesus after he had said this and said, errm, Jesus, you know, the Pharisees were pretty much offended by that Matt 15:12, and Jesus basically said, let them be, they are blind leading the blind.
Jesus isn’t offended at offending, it doesn’t bother him that people get offended. He doesn’t rush up to people and apologise because he offends them. There can obviously be a big difference between you and I offending someone and Jesus offending someone. Jesus offends people because he challenges their pride, we can sometimes offend because of our pride, so there is of course a big difference, but when it comes to the Gospel message, many people are offended by it.
There is a big oooarrr going around at the moment regarding a book written by Rob Bell called Love Wins. Basically Rob Bell is trying to provoke thought in the direction that everyone will eventually be saved (he is a pastor by the way who is supposed to preach the truth, not an idea of his version of truth). He says he is not a Universalist, but he definately holds the same views as a Universalist when it comes to everyone being saved.. eventually. He wants to put across the message to people that God is about Love so would not send people to a eternal hell. He says Christians say the central message of Christianity is about hell, but his message is about love. Well, I am a Christian, and as far as I am concerned the central message of the TRUE gospel is not about hell, but about Jesus, the Cross, Salvation, forgiveness, redemption etc.
Anyway, it appears to me that Rob Bell is trying to create a more palatable gospel, one that is less offensive and more appeals to our own moral standards, the problem with that is not only is it unbiblical, but who’s moral standards is he trying to appeal to, since moral standards differ in each culture? Lets for example use the Kombai Tribe in Papua New Guinea who kill and eat their enemies…they are not breaking any laws nor will they end up in prison, yet do that in a western culture and you will be arrested and in some cases put to death.
So I guess we would need to limit the gospel to fit in with the western culture of moral standards in order to make the gospel less offensive to those it currently doesn’t appeal to. There are those cultures who understand just judgement, but for some reason, we in the western culture cannot accept it, so have to create something less offensive.
When it comes to people declaring themselves to be Christians, they should at least believe what is written in scripture even if they don’t like everything that it says. We cannot understand the mind of God, not do we understand His ways, we just have to accept what he says and trust in His Just judgement. He is my God and I believe in Him and trust Him and I am not about to go around making up a different gospel because I don’t like the idea of people living in eternal separation from God even though God made a way through Jesus to be reconciled to God yet they reject it.