Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can We (I) Be Offensive for the Right Reasons and Not the Wrong Ones?

I was reminded today at lunch in a conversation with a good friend that if I am a Christian, I must first and foremost be concerned with living out my Christian witness, both in word and deed. To focus on either to the exclusion of either is to short-circuit the gospel's power. Christ has called us to be His hands and feet, but He's also called us to be His mouth to a lost and dying world.

We must be concerned for people's physical well-being of course. But without the gospel understanding we're just helping them to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic. But likewise, if we proclaim the gospel, yet have no concern for people's physical well-being, we betray a cold and shallow understanding of the fullness of Christ's redemption.

Proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ will never be popular to this world, and we shouldn't try to make it so. We must be willing to take the heat for that bold and dangerous claim the He is the only way to the Father. So in this sense we must be willing to be offensive in the way the gospel message is offensive to those not wanting to hear their true condition.

But at the same time we must also beware not to be offensive for all the wrong reasons. Our attitude must reflect the humble servant attitude of Christ and the Apostles. In fact He specifically warned His followers not to act like the surrounding culture that lauds authority over others. Sadly the reality is that many Christian "leaders" have exhibited just that haughty attitude that Christ forbade.

I know, because I've done it.

Last night I started rereading the Gospel of Luke and was immediately struck by how he emphasizes how God works through the marginalized over and over again. That's the way of God's Kingdom. It turns the notion of kingdom on its head and has its nobles serving the peasants and laying their lives down for the sake of the peasants, instead of the other way around, which is what our wars are always about. The poor go to the front lines in order to protect the privileges of the wealthy. But in God's war, He goes to the front lines and sacrifices His life so that we, the poor and enslaved, may be liberated and raised up.

Can we emulate this?

Will we emulate this?

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