Friday, February 24, 2017

Are You Offended?

"And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

We live in a society where it seems easier and easier to be offended by someone or something.  This seems to be especially true, or at least very apparent, in politics.  If the politician representing group A says virtually anything then the people in Group B are instantly outraged. And vice versa.  Offense and outrage are present in the church too, something Jesus was quite clear about in Luke 7:23.  But Jesus was also clear in noting that it was he himself who was the source of offense, stating that it you weren't offended by him then you were blessed.

And what is it about Jesus that is so offensive?  To understand that in Luke's gospel we have to go back to Luke 5:32, where Jesus said:

"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

In a world that so very much does not want to draw lines in the sand about anything controversial, Jesus draws lines that are firm and in which a person is either on one side or the other.  People need to see that they are sinners who need to repent before God.  People will be offended by Jesus or they will be blessed by him.

Throughout all the Gospels Jesus is direct in speaking about human sin and what sinners are called to do about it.  They are called to see their sin for what it is, as being something offensive to God, and then to turn from it and turn towards God.  This is repentance.

The problem comes when we don’t see the things we do for what they are.  We want to say that they really aren't that bad; that everyone else is doing them; or that it is someone else who is doing really bad things and not us.  We excel at making excuses, but Jesus will have nothing to do with our excuses.  Look at God on the one hand and your sin on the other, and choose which way you will turn.  

It is in our response to those words where we find the point at which Jesus becomes personally offensive or not.  Will we just ignore him and go about our business?  Or will we see that he speaks the greatest truth that the world has ever heard?  It is when we are not offended by the news that we are sinners in desperate need of a savior and turn towards him that we begin to understand what it means to be blessed.

The words of Jesus are not always easy for us to accept, but they are always for our good.  Don't be offended when he calls you a sinner, for he also points you towards your only hope, in that he is a beautiful, merciful and perfect Savior.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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