An Offense to the World

January 31st, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

The bible is clear and consistent in its call for sacrificial discipleship. Jesus calls his followers (as joined together in the Body of Christ), to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19). He calls his followers to do this at the cost of forsaking the comforts of personal property and prestige and even family relations (Mk. 10:29Lk. 14:26Mt. 10:37). He calls on his followers to love as he loves (John 13:34-35), which cannot point to anything less radical than the cross. He calls them to take up their cross and follow him (Mt. 16:24). He calls them to be perfect (Mt. 5:48). He never calls his people to comfortable compromise with the world.

I have here barely scratched the surface of the hundreds of places in scripture where God’s chosen people are called to radical and sacrificial living in favor of justice, righteousness, love, and the gospel. How can anyone who is called to be “born again,” (Jn. 3:3) to forsake all and be “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) so that they might rise to new life in Christ, believe that he demands any less?

The Spirit filled gospel community living out God’s commands will stand out from the world. In fact it is an offense to the world, which is precisely what Jesus predicted (Mt. 10:16-2334-39Jn. 15:18-19). Jesus does bring peace, but it is not a false, compromising, comfortable peace (Jn. 14:27), rather assurance and contentment in the midst of persecution (Phil. 4:11-13). And God does not call us to be quiet, he calls us to proclaim the gospel, as much with our lives as our words. And that will always be a radical act that requires courage.

Today’s traditional church does not believe this, and does not want to live this. That is where the contemporary church departs from the authenticity of the gospel and surrenders to the surrounding culture. It is lack of authenticity that post-moderns reject, not Christ or the gospel. People who are drawn to the gospel of Christ are not satisfied with Christianized pep talks about how to be successful by the world’s standards. And the last thing today’s churches need is a cadre of well-meaning but apparently theologically ignorant leaders justifying the status quo by trying to make Christians “comfortable.” Christians do not need to be comforted; they are too comfortable already. They need to be shaken awake, and this requires recognizing that the gospel centered life is a radical one, by the world’s standards.

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