Committed to Preaching an Offensive Gospel

Paul writes in chapter one about how the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the cross in particular, may be offensive. To some we see it for what it is, the heart of the good news. Others see it as folly, weakness, or a stumbling block to belief.

At times people may desire to overcome the offensiveness of the crucifixion and make the message more appealing to the world. We may even do so with the best of intentions, so that more people may hear the message. But Paul is committed to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ and he will not sugar coat it. He knows that it is a hindrance to Jews and the idea of worshiping an executed criminal is simply absurd to the Greeks. But he can not gloss over the crucifixion.

In our attempts in today’s world to make the message of Jesus Christ more “relevant” or sensitive to our modern culture, we cannot lose sight of what we preach. God is pleased to save those who believe through a foolish message. We ought not water it down for in so doing we will lose its fullness. The cross of Christ may offend. A gospel of grace–as wonderful and freeing as it is for believers–is not always accepted as good news. But we must trust in God’s wisdom and in his message, not concerning ourselves with whether we appear as fools to this world.

Paul, a very educated and eloquent man, did not seek to sidestep that which he knew would cause problems for his readers and listeners with lofty speech and convincing rhetoric. I’m sure he could’ve concocted a message that would be far more appealing. But Paul had no desire to merely entertain. No he decided to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Are Job’s friends right or wrong?

As we continue to read into Job we have the problem of what to make of the words of Job’s three friends. It seems at times that their words are true and their conclusions right. They talk of the punishment that comes upon the wicked, but they then relate this to Job’s situation, and there it falls apart. The picture we are shown is one in which Job is innocent and that the distress that has come upon him is not a direct punishment for something he has done. So are his friends right or wrong?

It is a little more complex and a word that has helped me in reading it is “appropriate.” Whether one of the friends speaks something that is true, is it also an appropriate statement to make? Is it fitting to the situation and applicable for Job? I felt torn wanting to quote some of these friends when I came across some powerful verses knowing that they’re not quite in the right in their speech. Would I be quoting them out of context?

Again it is good to remember just because someone says something in the Bible doesn’t mean it is “biblical.” Characters from the Bible are not always the examples we remember them to be and the wisdom of Job’s wise friends is not always good. But there are instances where even the naive speak great truth without even knowing it. So ultimately, these three may say some insightful things, but use discernment in judging their words. The only one who is without fault in speech is God, who we’ll get to at the end.

To some, being a Christian will be like wearing a dunce cap

We talked a great deal tonight in our Reading Group about 1 Corinthians 1. It is our focus passage for the week and in it Paul talks of the foolishness of the cross in the eyes of the world. Conversation went in all directions so we did not make it through all the prepared questions, so I had to ask one question as we parted. (By the way, that’s my favorite way for conversation to go).

The cross is foolishness to others, so how do we prepare ourselves to be seen as fools because of it? I know I try avoid appearing stupid, dumb, foolish (toss in your favorite synonym). But, if I serve a crucified Christ, I won’t be able to avoid being seen that way.

Do I care more about how I’m perceived? Do I want to look smart more than I want to look like a fool for Christ? I think in certain circles we Christians want to appear to have all the answers and be seen as wise. While we shouldn’t seek to be ignorant or unwise, that cannot be our greatest pursuit. The cross of Christ is utter foolishness to the world and no matter how we phrase it, the cross will be a stumbling block and folly to a great many.

We just need to find ourselves more comfortable resting in the wisdom and power of God than vainly struggling to muster strength and smarts of our own. How others see me is nothing compared to knowing and being known by God.