Why No One Is Offended By Jesus Anymore

May 8, 2013

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 4.54.50 PM.png.CROP.rectangle3-large.54.50 PMThe apostle Paul called the cross “offensive.”

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.

Wasted Advertising

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.

Minor Leagues

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?

20 responses to Why No One Is Offended By Jesus Anymore

  1. Oh, people are offended by Jesus, too. I recall a meme pairing Jesus’ “Whoever isn’t with me is against me” with the renowned theologian George Lucas’ “Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes.” The question is, did the poster of said meme read these words on his own, or did a believer tell him? Either one is possible.

  2. “The World Will Hate Me on Account of You”

    I love this. Exactly.
    ric booth recently posted..Moon Rising

  3. I’ve heard it said elsewhere, and I have to agree, that American-flavored Christianity has pretty much devolved into a matter of having all the “right” opinions.

    It doesn’t matter how you actually behave. It certainly doesn’t matter whether you have any shred of empathy for your fellow fallen humans–all that’s required is that you’re appropriately scandalized by whatever the higher-ups tell you to be scandalized by.

    I say this because I’ve been there–in the environment I was raised in, I was taught that I was supposed to disapprove of homosexuality, premarital sex, Halloween parties, reading the horoscope, and drinking. And, boy, did I twist myself into mental knots trying to maintain the “right” level of disapproval, even when, deep down, I didn’t truly believe any of it. In retrospect, none of that made me a better Christian–it only made me more of an insufferable jerk that no one wanted to be around.

    What I want to know now is this–if I take away all those ridiculous mental gymnastics and obsessing over minutiae, what’s left? If “sharing the gospel” DOESN’T consist of telling your roommates why you’re too much of a holier-than-thou tool to go trick-or-treating with them–what *should* it look like?

    Or maybe I should ask “what would you have said if you were that guy on national tv?”

  4. “No one had the chance to be offended by Jesus…”
    There ya go. This is the exact problem. Jesus can handle the hate. Once encountered you find you need Him or you run from Him. When we get in the way the hate towards us is replicated time and again. It taints our ability to point to the gospel. Who wants to hear anything from someone they hate?
    Ken Hagerman recently posted..Rambling Round Up

  5. When I became a believer, back in the early ’70s, the big issues were things like guitar vs organ, long hair vs short hair, and how dare anyone play Christian rock and roll (think Larry Norman, and Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?) It’s all pretty silly today. We need to get back to loving God and loving people. God is perfectly capable of convicting sinners of their sin.

  6. Totally agree with Abby and mark, in proverbs it states
    Better to be considered a fool than to open your outh
    and remove all doubt. More can be accomplishes with
    A single word spoken in love then an entire
    Diatribe ranted at an unbeliever. So sad for the missed
    Opportunity.

  7. I am offended by Jesus and the cross. I haven’t figured out how that translates to me being a “Christian.” I don’t hold most of the popular viewpoints of Christians. I can’t seem to make myself fit into that box.

    Is no one offended by the imagery of cannibalism presented in the NT, or has it just become so routine that we don’t give it a second thought? That Jesus tells the one man to sell all that he has and give it to the poor? Does no one question what happened to the woman who gave the two pennies and Jesus said she gave the most because she gave all that she had? Did she then starve? Was she homeless? The scriptures say nothing about how she survived, only that Jesus praised her to his followers.

    I really struggle to be a Christian because i have trouble with these passages and more.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. . . And then will I declare to them, ‘I wnever knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7

    “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15

    How can we ever know? I know that i do not have the love that Jesus speaks of, that he commands his followers to have. I can’t help but think i must be unchosen, if i struggle with his words so much and am so outside of what passes for Christianity these days.
    Kathryn recently posted..Post number 50

    • Christianity isn’t about following rules or fitting in boxes. It’s about having a relationship with God. And, just like our other relationships, yours won’t necessarily look just the same as someone else’s. Start with HIM and then work through the other passages. I believe you’ll find answers.
      Kelly Stanley recently posted..I will have nothing to do with Him…

  8. The rest of the world is not like America. Yes, Jesus is still an offense in many parts of the world. People suffer greatly for following him in some places.

  9. Great post, Matt!

  10. I do agree with you that Christians can be mean and hurtful in how they disagree and that they, like all humans on this planet, suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. And like all humans, we Christians can get our panties in a twist over silly, useless things. I even personally know at least one professing Christian who, by his actions, cause the name of Jesus to be blasphemed.

    But God’s prophets in the Old Testament also didn’t mince words when it came to Isreal’s sin. Didn’t one of the prophets call the Isrealite high society women “cows”? Didn’t Ezekiel compare Isreal and Judah to prostitutes and even worse because prostitutes at least get money in return for their licentiousness? All the prophets included snippets of grace in their rants, like in Isaiah 1:18, where God promises to forgive them and wash their sins away if they would just return to Him. But there seems to be a LOT more talk about God’s judgement and many lists of the wrongs His people committed by the O.T. prophets. And lest we forget, even kind, loving Jesus could get harsh with people, especially the ones who did not acknowledge their sins. And if we believe that these prophets and Jesus spoke God’s words, why did a loving God have his prophets say such horrible things about people? Maybe it is because we all need to hear and acknowledge the bad news before we can accept the Good News. Why do I need Jesus if my thoughts and actions can be justified? If I am good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like me, why do I need to be saved?

    I am not justifying what Mr. Broussard said because I personally have not gone beyond the headlines and hearing stuff in social media to be able to have an independently informed opinion regarding the statements made. However, I also believe that NO one knows the heart of Chris Broussard or has an inside line into his personal communications with God. How do we not know that what Chris Broussard said wasn’t exactly what God told him to say, since God has a clearly demonstrated precedent, both in O.T. and N.T. for saying things that people didn’t want to hear?
    tandemingtroll recently posted..Joy in the Family: Family Update

    • Here’s my take on it, and correct me if I’m wrong–

      As I recall, a significant bit of Jesus’ wrath was directed against those who were screwing over their fellow people (i.e. the money changers.) I’m not an expert on the OT prophets, but a lot of the “turning away from God” behavior that they were preaching against also included screwing people over (ignoring the widows and orphans, etc.)

      I’m no biblical scholar, and I’m certainly not the best Christian, but the one thing that I’ve taken away from Gospel is that God is on the side of the ones that have been screwed over, and that His ultimate goal is to make that right. As such, I’m supposed to be on the side of the “screwed over” as well.

      Long story short, the point here is not that we (as Christians) should never be rude or angry–it’s that we should be directing our righteous anger where it belongs–toward the bullies, the cheats, the abusers, and all the other ones who prey upon the weak. Being a jerk in order to bring about justice is one thing; being jerk in the service of your own ego is quite another.

      Now, others may disagree with me, but I don’t put a homosexual guy who hasn’t harmed anyone except the dorks that are somehow offended by his mere existence in the same category as the cheats and the bullies. And, maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not going to believe that a guy is “speaking for God” without some damn good evidence (saying something that actually lines up with some of God’s other actions might be a good start.)

      • Abby, I am not a Biblical scholar, either, but my impression from reading the Bible is that God is most concerned when we turn away from Him, tell Him that we don’t need Him, that we can do good on our own without Him. It also seems to me that the two jobs God has given us is to love Him completely first and love others completely and that we will always fail at our second job when we fail at our first job. I believe that every sin, no matter how “big” or “small” hurts God, it hurts others and, ultimately, hurts the sinner the most. And my impression from reading the Bible is that His purpose in calling out our sin was and continues to be, to lead us to acknowledge that He is right, repent from our sins and be completely restored in all of our earthly and heavenly relationships. Christians are not as good as God at being able to point to restoration in the process of calling out sin, which is in agreement with what Matt said about sometimes we Christians are stumbling blocks to God’s message.

        I also totally agree with Matt that we Christians should always speak both truth and the gospel of grace. And I totally respect him for wanting to help Mr. Broussard hone his delivery of God’s gospel of grace, just as I totally respect your challenge of my response as encouragement to do a better job of communicating

        The problem I had was when Matt started impugning a motive for Mr. Broussard’s statement by saying that Mr. Broussard was defending God and stealing His spotlight, which would involve knowing what God knows about Mr. Broussard’s heart. For all we know, it could be that God had Mr. Broussard read Ezekiel 3:16-19 and said, “Be my Ezekiel to Mr. Collins.” When we impugn motive, or judge the person’s heart, we are essentially taking pot shots at other people.

        Matt: Communication is a tricky thing. I try to be respectful and believe that I failed this time. Please forgive me. I appreciate the challenges you make because they strengthen my faith. You are an awesome writer and as soon as the month of Mayhem is over, I look forward to sitting down and reading your book.
        tandemingtroll recently posted..Joy in the Family: Family Update

        • Jesus-in-the-City May 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm

          I wish I could write more but I’m tired.

          I would like to say I agree with tandemingtroll’s pov.

          I listened to some snippets of Chris’ interview online and didn’t really hear much wrong with what he said. Plus, you can’t hear the specific questions asked either. You just hear his replies. I think for a basketball player (not a pastor) put on the spot in a 2 minute interview, he did a pretty good job.

          People are offended by sin. John says the light came into the world and people stayed in the darkness because they didn’t want their deeds to be seen in the light.

          I know when I got saved, it was by the Holy Spirit and there was an immediate conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit is what leads people to get saved and this guy is a basketball player, not a pastor or an evangelist. Im not sure how he is supposed to show people the heart of Jesus in a 2 minute interview on ESPN and im not sure the questions he was asked were really geared toward that. I think as his brothers and sisters in Christ, if we’re going to point the finger, then we should also follow God’s Word which says we are to love Chris and support him as our brother. All of the dissention on the Internet with Christians tearing down other Christians for not being perfect like Jesus does a lot more harm than good.

          I think Chris seems like a good guy and if people want to be fair they should probably post his actual interview and the actual questions he was asked. And give their brother the benefit of the doubt. After all, you’re probably going to be in heaven with him for all eternity, so nice to have some good things to say :)

          God bless!
          Aja

  11. Bring up Jesus and His gospel at the next family get together…or barbecue that you attend.

    See how much longer the party lasts. My bet is not too long.
    theoldadam recently posted..Have trouble discerning law and gospel?

  12. They that are offended by the Words of the Stone will either 1.) fall on the stone and be broken by conviction. Broken people can be fixed when they fall upon the Stone in repetance. or 2.) Rebell aganst the Stone and recieve judgement; the Stone will fall upon then and they are crushed to powder. Destroyed people people cannot be saved or put back together. The chioice is ours. People are the offendors, not Cbrist!

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