23 January 2010

I'm Offended

There was once a day in America when integrity and character were of the utmost importance; when people had strong opinions and convictions and beliefs, and could tell you why – and would without a moment’s hesitation. Today, the majority of people in this nation won’t even discuss politics or religion (1) because they’re too lazy and materialistic to form well-thought-out opinions about such matters, and (2) because they’ve been conditioned to believe that “tolerance” is the ultimate virtue and are afraid that their opinions might offend somebody that doesn’t share them.

As Christians, we have been called to preach the gospel to every creature. We have been given a duty, a responsibility, an obligation, a privilege – basically, to warn the lost of God’s judgment and to offer them the only way of escape. The same people who say we’re too judgmental condemn us for “pushing our religion on people” or “shoving it down their throats.” Honestly, we couldn’t force Jesus on anybody even if we tried, but over and over again, our presentation of the gospel message “offends” people, and some are sure to let us know.

So I’ve given some thought to what a lot of people actually mean when they say, “I’m offended!” What they are basically saying is that what we preach has made them feel bad. And I believe that’s a good thing. Now, I’m sure that statement is a shocker to many a modern American “Christian,” but that’s because many of them have spent more time with the TV than they have with the Bible. God DOESN’T want you to feel good about yourself (1) because you’re not good; (2) because you’ll never repent if you do; and (3) because you’ll never know the blessings of His salvation and a relationship with Him if you don’t repent.

It seems that what a number of people really mean when they say, “I’m offended,” is that they’re under conviction – because somewhere down deep in their heart, they know we’re telling the truth. They despise our message, but their conscience agrees with it.

Think about it, if I walked downtown this afternoon and a group of Muslims were praying and chanting and trying to get me to join them, I might be annoyed because I think it’s stupid (we get a lot of that, too), but I wouldn’t be “offended” in the way that many are offended by our preaching – because I know what I have is the truth and it’s so much better than whatever it is they’re offering me.

Our purpose in preaching is not to offend people. It’s to preach the gospel so they can be saved. We are to do so with zeal and with compassion; with fervor and with tact; with boldness and with respect. If we offend people because we’re jerks, that’s not good. But if we offend people because we tell the truth, that’s great (regardless of what Oprah says).

It means the message is being heard. It means the conscience is alive. It means the Holy Spirit can continue that work. It means a sinner might be one step closer to falling at the feet of the Savior in humble repentance.

And that’s what we’re after. Because Jesus Christ is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. Life is vanity, and eternity is hell – without HIM.

Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

1 Peter 2:7-8 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

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