And in the future, when i err, I’d like to err on the side of grace.
We’ve heard it said many times before by trendy authors and edgy preachers willing to push the limits and boundaries of comfort, as well as those of us who have a proclivity for proclaiming ‘truth’ ::
‘Jesus was offensive. The gospel is offensive.’
‘Some people just aren’t going to like it. Jesus was a stumbling block to many.’ This usually comes with the implied perspective, ‘So if Jesus is a stumbling block to you, just get out of my way. I’ve got work to do.’
Yet it seems to me, as I spend time reading and re-reading the gospels, that Jesus was not at all offensive to the disenfranchised, to the oppressed, to the despised and rejected. Jesus was not all that offensive to sinners. In fact, he was attractive to them.
Sure, he was a stumbling block to many… and offended many as well.
Namely, the religious.
He got the religious leaders so worked up that they begged the roman authorities to kill him just to shut him up. He was too inclusive, too loved by the common people. Too accepting of those the insiders deemed as Other.’ And he didn’t respect the status quo enough. He rocked the boat a little too much.
Then he went so far as to claim that this was what God the Father sent him to do.
‘crucify! crucify him! let his blood be on us and our children!’
They were offended all right.
Makes me think || If we’re serious about following Jesus – of remembering, celebrating and mimicking his life, of following his example in humble obedience to God – perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to be considered offensive to the religious.
Michael Kimpan is the author of the WayWard follower blog, a site designed to inspire thoughtful conversation and movement among followers of Jesus Christ. Michael worships and serves on staff as the Communications Director at Richwoods Christian Church in Peoria, IL.