He said it was a “stumbling block.”
It’s easy to see what he meant. No one had contemplated the idea of worshipping a man who died disgracefully. A slave’s death. A notorious death. The cross was a symbol of “Pax Romana,” the peace that Rome enforced by executing enemies of the state.
But I wonder…are people really still offended by the cross? (Not just because we are inundated with violent entertainment.)
Are people really stumbling over the gospel? Are they tripping over Jesus’ words?
Jesus said that people would hate us, his followers, on account of him.
I’m not sure Jesus’ words are all that true anymore. People aren’t offended by the cross or stumbling over the gospel or hating us on account of Jesus. The fact is most people can’t get close enough to Jesus to be offended by him…
…They’re too offended by us.
I never understood commercials for milk. I mean, the “Got Milk?” ads were catchy. But who doesn’t already know about milk? Who watched one of those ads and thought, “You know, I had forgotten milk existed!”?
No one, that’s who. Everyone knows about milk.
Chris Broussard has done a bang-up job of creating a similarly useless publicity campaign. When he explained his position on Jason Collins’ homosexual lifestyle, he added absolutely nothing to the conversation. No one heard what Chris had to say and thought, “Oh, that was helpful. He certainly cleared up some questions I had about what many Christians think about gays.”
Instead, he just gave people who are already opposed to Christianity, already offended by Christianity, already convinced that Christians are a bunch of hateful prejudiced jerks, the chance to blast him. Chris had the chance to share the gospel on cable TV, and he wasted it by talking about a certainly prominent, but nevertheless tertiary issue.
Chris is hardly the first Christian to neglect a chance to talk about the saving work of Jesus, his offensive death and resurrection? How often are we tricked into this? We have the chance to talk about Jesus. But we are convinced that it’s somehow more important to share our feelings about the contemporary issue of the day. (i.e. who’s going to hell.)
I picked up a short collection of D.L. Moody’s sermons a few years ago. He was a great evangelist and a great man of God. But there are still some real bloopers in there. He spent an entire Sunday sermon, possibly more than one, ranting and raving about bicycles. Yes, Moody thought bikes were a shortcut straight to hell.
In a hundred years, most of the things we argue about today are going to look similarly stupid to our great-great-grandchildren. Does anyone still believe that bike-riding is ungodly? How much energy are Christians going to spend trying to change people they cannot change, expressing opinions that are not central to the gospel, essentially majoring in the minors?
The World Will Hate Me on Account of You
This is one of the biggest problems with Christians today. We’re too busy stealing the spotlight from Jesus.
No one had the chance to be offended by Jesus on ESPN. Chris Broussard hogged the spotlight and Jesus was left off-camera. Jesus was a non-issue. Chris spoke for Jesus instead of letting Jesus speak for himself. And that is usually the world’s experience.
The world doesn’t see or hear Jesus. People are supposed to hate us on account of Jesus. But we’ve got it backwards! People hate Jesus, on account of us!
What if we stopped telling everyone what God thinks? What if, the next time we are in a position like Chris was in, we refuse to play the game, we refuse to be set up? What if, every time someone asked what our faith dictates about this or that, we just talked about the death and resurrection of Jesus to reconcile humanity to God and nothing else?
What if we put Jesus center stage again and let Him offend people again?
What do you think? Could some of our problems be solved if we just refused to engage the arguments?