Somewhere, beyond the pews of nominal Christianity and the lukewarm messages of positive thinking, a Gospel’s out there. Somewhere. The Good News is preserved in the faithful’s hearts, and it is above the diluted Gospel that is low-commitment as well as low- impact. The barebones Gospel is an offensive one, for it deals with our inadequacies.
Humans are apt to demonstrate that we can “get along without God.” Thus, we see self-help books, self-empowerment, and self-knowledge. Accordingly, the world has self-destructed over the course of time as we’ve relegated God to fairytale status. I can’t speak for the masses, but any fairytale without God is one that I don’t want to live in.
We’ve been living in a post-modern fairytale for a few decades now, and consequently, it’s taken quite an anti-Christ flavor. As a result, the only bit of self-knowledge that I’ve parceled out is that I can’t maintain any sort of moral perfection. On the other hand, in stepped Jesus, and He’s changed the game.
Sin is a self-imposed sickness, and the only prescription is Jesus’ blood. I’m unable to explain the heavenly intricacies of exactly why this is true, but I cannot help but rest in the fact it does heal. The learned man demands answers, and when the Gospel is preached to him, he gets offended because he doesn’t like the answers that God gives! That’s the height of hubris: the man in need of rescuing dictating the terms of his deliverance to the deliverer.
That’s why I hope the Gospel offends us all. From the proclaiming atheist to the unashamed believer, I hope the Gospel never becomes a message that breeds a sense of entitlement. God did not send His Son to be scourged, scathed, and nailed to a crossbeam in order to people feel empowered so they could “clean up their act.” Jesus came not to pat us on our bums or pander in positivity but to heal the sickness of sin.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” -John 3:17
The first step to repentance is offense, because post-modernity is thick with the arrogance of image. We indulge in constructing the perfect image of ourselves for all to gawk at, but when that image comes crumbling down at the first signs of sin’s scandal, we scramble for cover. I call it the chuck and duck: we lob blame for our mistakes at someone or something else, then run away to hide our faces from the shame.
That’s what’s so incredibly offensive about the Gospel: we must admit that we’re not only sinners, but also scandalously addicted to it. How was the kingdom ushered in? John the Baptist was calling for anyone with a pulse to confess their sins, for He could not “make straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23) by telling everyone that we humans could figure it all out ourselves if we just philosophize enough.
The Gospel works because it’s offensive. It forces a man to either submit to God’s salvation or find another replacement. Since there is no other valid alternatives that doesn’t lead to hell, Christianity has always been about a single choice. Either fess up to your inability to save yourself or don’t. Otherwise, it’s unfortunately over for you. Many a brilliant man and woman has imagined an alternative to Christianity, and with the might of wit and education, they conjure up fantasies to avoid the fact that they too are just as broken as the rest of the unenlightened. They can’t accept this fact…
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23
Each alternative worldview is Satan’s strategy to kidnap your confession; yes, he will sell any farce to avoid seeing you admit that you are a sinner and require help. The Bible is the only book that deals with salvation from sin. The Koran can’t compare. The Bhagavad Gita won’t cut it. Humanism won’t admit that worshipping the here-and-now is inadequate. We humans are fond of plurality, but it just doesn’t work that way for salvation. This is the only hope you’ve got…
“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— He did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” -Romans 3:24-26
The Gospel has always been about two things: confessing your inadequacy and accepting the Savior who makes you adequate.Paul got so offended by this Gospel that he went after every Christian he could find, yet in the end, who died in the service for Christ? A learned man can conjure every doubt that comes to mind, yet he cannot avoid the pesky annoyance of human imperfection. There are thousands of possibilities to doubt, but there is only one way to believe: in Jesus Christ alone.
Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with ears to hear to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. The great pursuit of his life is to live by the words he writes—which is an ongoing project. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.