I’m sure you balked at this title. I certainly would. “Offensive? Of course not! Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we as Christians are supposed to be?”
Because we don’t want people to get angry with us. We don’t want to be disliked. We work very hard to portray a pleasant image, a pleasing demeanor, and why would we want anything to disturb it?
And when that pertains to our own character traits and speech, that’s fine – good even. I shouldn’t try to be annoying. I shouldn’t use harsh, grating words. I shouldn’t be abrasive and loud, brow-beating and abusing everyone around me. That all goes against how we’re called to live as Christians.
But as Christians, we are called to be offensive in another way.
Because we should be completely saturated with the Something that’s very offensive. Our lives should be permeated with That which the world hates. We should every day declare the most dividing Thing ever.
Because our every action, every word, every thought, should be infused with the Gospel.
Now don’t disconnect. Don’t lose your shock. Don’t allow the familiarity of this thought to steal away it’s astonishment. Because the Gospel truly is an offensive thing. The fact that we are the ones who are ruined, that we are the ones who “have tied our own selves to the train tracks”, that we can’t do it ourselves — how do you think that sounds next to the American Dream?
The proposition that man is an amphibian of Spirit and earth, that Truth exists and it’s been embodied in the flesh, that there is something outside of death — what is that thought of by our age of Materialism?
The idea that there is right and wrong, and the world is very much on the wrong side; that there is only one Way, and all the rest are very much in the wrong direction; that there are only two eternal destinations, and all those who convince themselves otherwise are very much in the wrong opinion — what is that compared to our age of inclusivism?
That’s what it is.
A stone of stumbling, a rock of offence. (1 Peter 2:8) Foolishness. (1 Cor 1:23)
And when we live faithful lives showing the knowledge of His Word, we literally put forth the smell of death to this world. (2 Cor 2:16) Because the world doesn’t like it. The world doesn’t accept it. It scoffs, it mocks, it laughs at such narrow-minded superstitions. But that shouldn’t surprise us. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, for they are spiritual discerned. (1 Cor 2:14) For the fleshly mind is at war with God, and refuses to be subject to His law. (Rom 8:7)
Marvel not that the world hates you, for the Gospel is utterly, completely abhorrent to fleshly mankind, distasteful in every way. (1 Joh 3:13)
So when our lives are a proclamation of the Good News, the world should be offended.
And not to say that we declare the truth rudely, or bombastically, or domineeringly. The offense never should come from us ourselves. If our actions, our tone, our manners are what causes others to shake their heads, then we are hurting the Christ’s testimony. But we shouldn’t be afraid to proclaim, to live in the offence of the cross. (Gal 5:11)
And honestly, this isn’t easy. We’d be content to regulate all our relations to the outside world by “Do unto others.” Don’t cheat, steal, or chew, or go with the girls (or guys) who do. Those ideas about sin and repentance and salvation — we’ll just save that for our own personal lives and church. Better not to make a scene. Because it’s hard and awkward and weird and — offensive. We could get weird looks, or lose other’s respect, or even lose friends, jobs, positions. Nope, might as well leave that stuff alone for the pastors, and just go about loving people.
But is that really showing love? Is that really doing unto others?
If a mighty tsunami was racing towards your house, but there was a helicopter offering to fly you to safety, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Why then do we view our neighbors’, our friends’, our coworkers’ eternal safety any differently?
Yes, people will be offended. Some will despise you. The world hated Him before it hated us. (John 15:18) But, among the crowds of boos, among those who scoff and roll their eyes, a few, a remnant will turn and look. They’ll be drawn closer. They’ll listen. And the ranks of your brothers and sisters will grow larger that day.
So, let us be offensive in the very best way. Let the Gospel so permeate our lives that those opposed to it will wrinkle their nose in disgust, getting the savour of death. Because then the Gospel will so permeate our lives that those open to it will catch the savour of life.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. Matthew 11:6
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death: and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:16)