ONE OF THE reasons some people give for dismissing the message of the gospel is that Christians are such poor advertisements. They may echo something along the lines of what Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have uttered: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.”
Certainly, and sadly, we believers have given folks plenty of ammunition for such criticism. I have been appalled by some of the venom and vitriol I see on the Facebook page of Christian friends, about people and groups with whom they disagree.
Maybe they are sharing with a closed community where they feel they can be candid, and they would never speak that way in public. Still, there is still a level of unkindness that is disturbing. And, let’s not forget, in Luke 6:45 Jesus talked about how what we say reveals what is really going on inside our hearts.
So, no question there are occasions when the good news is rejected because it is represented badly. And yet. And yet. It’s also much too easy an excuse to throw around, especially in the current politically correct, touchy-feely climate where giving offense is the ultimate sin.
Because, sometimes, the offense isn’t in the messenger. It’s just inherent in the message. Remember that the apostle Paul spoke about the unavoidable “offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:1). In 1 Peter 2:8, Jesus is called “the rock of offense.”
However, most people don’t like to hear about sin, naturally. At least not theirs. I certainly didn’t before I came to faith; it was an easy way to blow off the challenge of the gospel by labeling the person who was talking with me about God as judgmental in some way.
It seems to me that to avoid being considered offensive, the church often looks to major more on the acceptable face of faith. So we focus on presenting Jesus as Healer, Deliverer, Friend and Comforter and all that. And, of course, He is all of those things and many more.
But ultimately He came as Savior, which presupposes we need saving from—and for—something. Indeed, when the angel came to Joseph, as he pondered divorcing Mary on learning about her pregnancy, it told him, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21, emphasis added). And let’s not forget Jesus’s first word when He started preaching, according to Matthew 4:17, “Repent.” Not exactly conciliatory.
You can’t share the gospel without ruffling a few feathers. That doesn’t mean we set out to offend. We strive to share a message that is offensive to the fallen human heart without being personally offensive. But we do so because we don’t believe that offense is the ultimate sin. We believe that the offense of the gospel is the ultimate answer to sin.