Saturday, June 18, 2011

No, Really, the Gospel Does Offend

One of the things that we in America have forgotten, one of the things we ignore whenever we sip the kool-aid of American style theology of Glory where there will be nothing but bigger numbers and grow and joy and blah blah blah is this simple truth.

The Gospel offends. No, really, it does.

A friend of mine posted on her facebook page the following Chesterton quote: "It has been proved a hundred times over that if you really wish to enrage people and make them angry, even unto death, the right way to do it is to tell them that they are all the sons of God."

Discussion has followed... and did her non-beleiving friends come out in force. And I engaged in discussion - and while it was pointing out things they didn't understand about Christianity it was okay (no, the divinity of Christ was confessed well before Rome legalized Christianity - no, Constantine didn't proscribe a canon in which he added magic to appeal to pagans, etc)- until I pointed out that Christianity wasn't a moral system - you can't describe Christianity (as they had) without a focus on the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Then, there was anger.

im just so sick of this lovey dovey view of god you all have. who put the tree in the garden? who created hell? who didnt have the foresite to see what would happen.

i didnt ask for his death or sacrafice. i didnt ask for any of it and now im bound to him for all eternity? i am guilty in the womb and you call that love?!

adam and eve make a simple act of disobedience and nothing more and because of that... all man kind is cursed!? give me a break!? jesus loves me so much that if i dont give him his due attention i get to burn in hell for all time. how wonderful!

what does it cost god or jesus if i dont worship him? why does he care? and care so much that he would burn he for all eternity?

does the punishment fit the crime?

Now, I did respond -- the purpose of this post isn't to republish a facebook conversation - but note this. Do you see the anger? Do you hear the offense that this person has taken? And he didn't take it at moralism or anything like that - he didn't take it at the wise and logical teacher Jesus - he took it where?

"I didnt ask for his death or sacrafice"

That's where the rubber hit the road.

God offers life - but we are a people in love with death. We are in love with our selfishness, our ego, the desire to say, "No, I'll do it myself" even to our own harm and isolation. Sinful man hates the love of God - the Gospel offends.

And if we are to speak the Gospel of Christ, we will be reviled, we will be mocked, we will be hated -- because we will be speaking to people who know nothing but how to revile, mock, and hate - who know only the selfish shadows of all that is good.

But we speak. Mayhaps the Spirit will work faith - He has done it before, and God grant that He does it again. But that isn't our concern. We speak the Gospel that offends -- perhaps it will offend unto life.

1 comment:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

What follows is my reply:

(Name), right now would you even *want* to be with God? I mean, you seem rather upset that He hasn't consulted with you on this. Rather than seeking to understand.... you seem much more concerned about telling God how stupid His is (or at ...least telling folks who believe in the Christian faith how stupid their God is).

It boils down to this - I contend that there is right and there is wrong. This fact seems to really upset you. Sorry about that.

And I hate to say it - the punishment does fit the Crime. Why? Because what *is* life? You know how breathing, that vital part of life is called "respiration" - do you see the word "Spire" in there... from Spirit? The idea has been that God gives life -that the Spirit breathes into man's breath the Spirit of life and man becomes a living being... we are alive because of God.

To sin is to reject God - and thus to reject, to cut one's self off from life. God restores life - calls out for repentance... but if one is so adamant that one doesn't want *life* - one rather wants death... God will let him have it. This is an imperfect analogy, but when a child demands over and over something that the parent knows is bad for it, when the parent final has enough and says, "Fine, have it your way" - it's not a good thing for the kid. Because that's the thing about "death" -- it's not the end. It's not the cessation of existence - its the cessation of goodness and joy and peace and security - of life.

You ask, flippantly, "Why does [H]e care [if I don't worship Him]?" Because He did not create you for pain. He did not create you for suffering and emotional anguish. He did not create you for death. He created you to live with Him and have peace and security. He suffers and dies for you, even while you are still His enemy so caught up in a fallen world that a fallen world is all you can conceive of. That's Romans 5 - But God shows His love for us in this; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

It's not that God *needs* your worship - as though God were some pagan deity who was only as strong as his worship attendance. Worship isn't about what God needs - it is about what we need - for when we are gathered to worship, we hear of His love for us, we receive His forgiveness and life, we are joined together with Him in the mysteries (and realities) of the faith. We receive life now, and the promise of life everlasting.

God knows what we need, and He wants us to have it. Simple as that.

Now, please note that I write this not necessarily expecting a massive conversion or something like that -- probably not a facebook thing. From my perspective, it would be nice - but I'm not *trying* to convert you - I'm not going to brow beat you on this.. But I do want to point out this - the way in which you reject and attack Christianity does show that you aren't really aware of what it teaches.

If you want to know more - I'll answer to the best of my ability. I'll even let you know how the various traditions within Christianity answer things (there are some answers in which Robyn and I would emphasize different things) -- I'll try to provide you all the info you would like.

But just one side comment -- this does prove the initial Chesterton quote -- nothing ticks off a person more than telling them that God loves them, and that they are a child of God. In fact, it will make them so angry that they'll say, "I'd rather have death - not this trashy life You offer." That's exactly the quote from above.