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Archive for tag Offensive

The offensive Jesus

I preached at a local church a few months back - on the offensiveness of Jesus. The guy who challenges the racial pride in his home synagogue by emphasising the way God blessed gentiles (Luke 4). The guy who tells the rich man to sell it all (Mark 10). The guy who derides the Pharisees for their failure to keep the law. The man who insists you take up your cross and follow him before crosses were chic or cool or fashion accessories.

People tend to end up with a view of Jesus that is suspiciously like a projection of their prejudices. A Jesus who is passionately concerned about sexual morals. Or who is passionately concerned about social justice. Or who is the model citizen. Or who is the ideal revolutionary. Or who is rich. Or who is poor. Or who is meek and mild. Or who is strong and wild. Or who is friendly and engaging. Or who is manly. Or who is child-friendly. Or who hangs out with fluffy animals. You get the picture. And the point I was trying to make was this: until Jesus offends you or demands that you to give up something you're not willing to, it's pretty hard to be sure you're hearing him rather than projecting him.

It seems like Jesus is dead popular: but find yourself a live Jesus and pretty soon even sworn enemies will unite to kill him.

The reason that this is A Good Thing™ is that the fact that Jesus offends and confounds us is an indicator that he is not a product of our wishful-thinking, conjured into being by an over-active desire-fuelled imagination. And when we realise that we don't "get" or understand him, it becomes clearer that he is real and that the solution, or the salvation, he offers is real too.

(I'm reminded of this because I came across a written summary of my preaching in their magazine - and no mention was made of the offence, only the positive aspects of the gospel.)