Why is the gospel offensive?
There’s no question that it’s offensive. But why? Do Christians mistakenly make it offensive?
It’s only after you become a Christian — the born again variety who experiences a conversion with corresponding voting habits — that you begin to wonder what’s happened to you. Maybe friends have asked you as much, “What’s happened to you? Because you’re offensive now.” Maybe you’re the friend and you’re wondering why Sam doesn’t suck on bongs anymore. Maybe you’re even offended by his new pot-less head. Maybe you’re another friend and you’re wondering, “If Mary says she’s a Christian, then why is she sleeping with her boyfriend? Is that how Christians act? That’s why I’m not a Christian, because if it’s about being good, I can’t be good.” Maybe you’re annoyed by Christians and would like to understand them better. And in understanding, you hope, maybe they will annoy you less. Maybe you don’t know what you believe about Jesus, but are open to listening (even though you happen to be reading right now). If you fall into any of the above categories, then you have been categorized. Congratulations!
Explaining what Jesus did on this earth is known as the gospel. For some reason, this is less offensive in written form. In the form of the person sitting next to you on a plane, it’s very offensive. I’m not sure why that always surprises us, but the gospel is offensive by nature. And the word gospel has nothing to do with choir robes and singing. The large black lady who belts out “oh, how he loves me” does so because of the gospel, but that’s not the gospel. The word gospel means good news. That’s why it’s offensive by nature, because when you begin to understand the gospel you understand the implication that it’s the best good news you’ll ever hear when it comes to God.
Earth shattering good news.
Good, but offensive.
And it’s not the part about being a sinner that you will find offensive. Most people will admit, “Sure, I’m not perfect.” But this isn’t about me. The point is, admitting you are a sinner is not the hurdle.
Now, if you happen to feel like you don’t need a Savior, that does make it more difficult to get saved. However, if that’s how you feel, I can honestly say to you that Jesus didn’t come for you. That’s right. Jesus didn’t come for you. (You see? I told you it was going to get offensive and fast.) Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” By the way, Jesus was being ironic, which is a form of humor. If you happen to believe you don’t need a Savior, this is just a sure sign of your colossal pride, the fountainhead of all sin, which is a sure sign that you are a sinner and need a Savior.
Okay, that’s usually not the offensive part.
The offensive part of the gospel is that Jesus is the only Savior who can actually save you. You are lost without him. You are blind without him. You are probably a member of the wrong political party. (Not really, but that was too easy.)
Christianity makes big, sweeping claims. We are talking about a man who rose from the dead, folks. Offensive ideas are built into the system. For example, Christianity isn’t viewed through a modern framework or a postmodern framework or any other framework. Christianity says it is the framework. It swallows up every other framework, every other religion, every other philosophy, every other ideology, every other everything. You cannot live outside of the Christian framework. You can only live in denial of it. There is no one who can save you from the penalty of sin and the power of sin other than Jesus Christ.
Yeah, I know.
Now, who wants to join? Lemme see those hands?
I know. It would take a miracle. Like something from God himself.
“Wait! Are you saying I can’t do it?”
I know. It just keeps getting more offensive. No, you can’t do it. At all. Zero. I guess that’s why grace is offensive.
“Grace? Who’s Grace?” asks some guy named Bob Saenz.
Why is the gospel offensive?