Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Offense, But. . .

For the longest time, my idea of Christianity was anything but offensive. It was a lot of sweetly worded songs about love and redemption and a whole lot of empty promises of "I'll be praying for you" when someone tells you a problem in their life. But then you move on with your life and it's nice to mention God when things are hard or uncomfortable, but you never really do anything about it. This idea of Christianity is the one that largely rules the American church and is shown by American Christians. It's become the norm to sit in a comfortable house with comfortable things, living comfortable lives with comfortable jobs and attending a comfortable church. We admire those who accept the call to the uncomfortable and move their families across the ocean to live among the impoverished in other countries or take time off of school or quit their jobs to serve a different ministry, but we'd never actually do that ourselves. 
"God may have called them to leave their comfort behind and be so radical, but He would never call me to something like that."
. . . Right?

Somehow I don't think this was the plan God had when He sent His son to be rejected, beaten, and murdered like a common thief to save us from an eternity in hell that we totally deserved. Sending your perfect son to die for a lot of disgusting people that you love is a pretty radical act, so it actually seems a little bit crazy to think that He would go to those lengths just so we could live comfortably and drive a nice car. I'm just saying. 

Let's face it: We're called to be uncomfortable and offensive.
Flattering, right? We're called to step out and live uncomfortable lives and to be offensive. Every. single. day.

Webster's dictionary defines offensive as "causing displeasure or resentment". It wouldn't be far off to say most beliefs in the Christian faith cause displeasure or resentment to the world. Everything we are called to fight for and believe and everything we know as truth is exactly opposite of what the world deems acceptable. Right from the beginning, choosing Christ is choosing to be offensive. 
But if you look at the Christians you know, how offensively would you say they live? 

I'm tired of being comfortable and unoffensive. 
As Christians, we're really quick to claim that Satan's best weapon against us and biggest hold on the world is the stuff everyone finds to be evil: genocide, slavery, famine, and poverty. I don't believe this is true.
Satan's biggest weapon that he uses against Christians is his ability to scare us into silence, to keep up from speaking up about the truth in fear that we'll offend someone. We find it so easy to speak out against tragedies like children dieing from AIDS and entire people groups being killed off, and we're quick to run to the rescue on a mission trip. It's easy to go to another country with people you'll never see again and tell them all about the things God has done in your life and the love He has for them. Then you go back home to your normal life, your comfortable life, and that Jesus stuff isn't too relevant anymore. But what about the person behind you in the grocery store? The person sitting next to you in your English class? Your next door neighbor or even that really good friend you've known for years, but you've never tried to share Christ with them because it might be offensive and ruin your relationship? We're so quick to run off to Africa or Asia and claim they need Christ, when we can't even share Him with the people in our very own country, where every day an endless number of people are suffering and giving up and dieing without knowing Him. 
This should scare us way more than it actually does.
We weren't put on this earth to live comfortable lives in comfortable homes with comfortable relationships. We weren't put here to make the most money and know the most people and go on a comfortable beach trip every summer. We were put here with the sole purpose of being Christ's light in the darkness and sharing His love with those who don't know Him or of the outrageous sacrifice of His son. 

We're called to be offensive. In fact, I'd go as far as to say we were made to be offensive. 

Is that easy? No. If I'm being totally honest with you, I've sat staring at my computer screen for 15 minutes trying to think of a different way to word a lot of things I've just written in fear that people might take me the wrong way and be offended. (If that isn't ironic, I don't know what is.)
However, just because something is right doesn't mean it is easy, but just because we're called to be offensive doesn't mean we're called to stand on a street corner and scream that the world is going to hell or slap everyone you know over the head with a Bible and point out their every fault. We are called to love people and live out our faith through love, but loving and condoning are two different things (but that is another topic for another blog).

Pursue relationships, share the truth, but the most effective way to share your faith is to live it out in love.
While we're called to be offensive, we're called to love. Ironic as it sounds, it is possible to love offensively.   
And that kind of love pretty much always means leaving your comfort behind and stepping out in radical faith, whether that means moving your family to another country or simply speaking to the person next to you on the bus, no matter how offensive His love appears to them.  

"Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,"    
                                                  - Matthew 16:24

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