the offensive message of the gospel
I’ve been thinking about the offensive nature of the good news, why is it so abhorrent to some and received with joy by others?
Here are a few thoughts.
We have an in built desire to achieve, to do and to build, we want to be known, seen as significant, we want to be powerful, knowledgeable, we want to be right, it’s in our blood, in our DNA, we want to show off and say to the world “look what I’ve done”, “how good am I?” None of those things are necessarily wrong, but don’t think for a minute that they impress Jesus.
In fact, when religious people do this I think it is safe to say Jesus hates this kind of behaviour.
The Gospel cuts through all of that, it tells us to enter the kingdom we must be like children, teachable, open, humble, dependant, vulnerable and carefree?
It also tells us that no matter how much we have sinned or we continue to sin, we are forgiven, no matter what we have done, even the most evil acts on the planet can be forgiven… Are already forgiven!?
Even Bin laden can / could know forgiveness, or so could Hitler or Pol Pot or Robert Mugabe…perhaps even Judas could have known forgiveness and grace if he hadn’t killed himself?
The Gospel demands of us to do the same for others, when we rightfully want justice and retribution and vengeance. It demands that we must forgive to know freedom and healing ourselves. It’s a matter of the heart.
It teaches us that forgiveness, love and healing is all a gift freely given, totally undeserved, received by faith. It doesn’t make sense to the rational mind.
You may feel you deserve something from God for all your efforts, you may feel that you’ve worked hard so you should enjoy the fruits of your labour, but the good news undermines all of that and tells you that anything we do is like filthy rags before God. So no matter how hard you pray, fast and do spiritual things you cannot earn Gods favour. It’s a free gift already given.
All this was made possible by Christ on the Cross, somehow he made access to God possible, that he somehow reconciled God the creator to all of Humanity his creation. Somehow his life, death and resurrection did something so deeply profound that it set in motion the redemption of the entire world, and it takes a childlike faith to believe it. Perhaps that’s why kids have not problem believing in Jesus?
That because of what Jesus did we can enter into the Kingdom of God, and then from there, we can learn to live like Jesus, be like Jesus and do as Jesus did.
Then Jesus went on to rise from the dead, vindicated, overcoming death itself, clearly demonstrating that he is Lord of all, even conquering death itself, and in doing so, demanding a response to his life giving sacrifice of Love.
Repentance is all about re learning, a new way of thinking, being re-wired, but that is offensive to the proud.
Every world religion tells us that we have to do something to achieve something. Christ tells us there is nothing we can do to earn it, or achieve it, only believe and let the spirit of God permeate your every fibre like a teabag releases it’s flavour when it’s steeped in hot water.
Christ gives power to the powerless, he makes the impossible possible.
Jesus says the first (most important,significant, powerful?) shall be last.
It’s all about him, it’s all about God riches at Jesus’ expense.
It has nothing to do with us.
That is offensive.
But when that sinks in, when we realise we are of the hook.
That is good news.