What do we do when the gospel offends?
The gospel will offend at times.
The gospel can be offensive.
Asking someone to give up everything they believed in and lived for and turn to another way is an offensive thing to do in a culture that says, "my truth is relative to who I am."
Therefore we have to accept to some level if we're gonna speak out for Jesus we're gonna upset some people.
But I want to take us step back, 'cause before working out what you do when you do offend someone we need to look at our attitude in sharing.
'Cause is our attitude in sharing one of compassion?
There's various words used about Jesus, various Greek words, about how he felt when he saw people who didn't know what it was to follow Him.
One was like I'm compassionate felt like a spear in the ribs twisted and pulled out a sort of gut-wrenching compassion 'cause they didn't know what it was to have life.
You know Jesus is the author of life you only exist till you meet Jesus.
Human beings were made to be in relationship with God.
The normal ones are the ones who are following God, that should give us a confidence.
There's another word used for Jesus I won't try and pronounce it at this moment, but another Greek word used about how He looked on people who didn't know Him.
And it was a deep compassion that looked deep into all they were and felt such loss for them.
If our motivating thing is compassion, then that is the most important thing 'cause then if we offend people we know that the motivation was pure.
However, I'm with Rick Warren who says on this stuff, "I would rather upset people than upset God."
And God gives us a mandate to fulfil the great commission.
And therefore we need to stand up, speak up and accept that if we've done it in the right motive and the right love there's not too much we can do when people are choosing to be offended by what we're sharing.
But let's not let so-called 'offence' 'cause people get offended by all kinds of things.
The Lord's Prayer thing that happened last Christmas where it was banned from cinemas.
And Richard Dawkins says, "if anyone is offended by this they deserve to be offended their skin's too thin."
It's interesting isn't it?
People get offended by everything now that doesn't mean that should stop us sharing Jesus.
I know every time I call for a response in a sort of corporate setting where you're calling for an evangelistic response, you're about to call for it and there's a little voice in your ear from the the evil one, "what if this isn't true? What if you're gonna ruin their lives?"
You choose in that moment to beat those voices to be brave and to speak out.
The other thing I say to people to reassure them, "it's God prerogative what happens."
When I first started out in evangelistic preaching I remember one time went really well one time it went really badly.
When it went really well everyone said, "wasn't God good?"
When it went badly, "oh, bit too much of you, Gav."
And I said, "hang on, I'm losing twice."
When it goes well I don't get any glory.
When it goes badly I get all the blame.
And I decided early on, I will be an ambassador for Jesus.
I will invite people into relationship with Jesus.
If lots happens, the glory's His.
If nothing happens, the philosophy is His.
I will leave it with Him.
So friends, we need to be honest sharers of it but we have to accept, to some extent it will cause offence.
Not everyone will agree with you.
People will think you're a nutter.
People will disagree.
But it doesn't mean we don't dust ourselves down, get up, pray for compassion and have a go again, hoping that God of every miracle might work miracles in those we love.
I guess it goes without saying that it's the gospel that's offensive, but we don't need to be offensive ourselves.
But what do you think it is Dave that actually really, those who do take offence, what generally is it what's behind that offence?
'Cause usually if someone's offended there's usually a backstory as to why that is.
Well it's a spiritual thing, I think, as much as anything else.
Jesus is called the Rock of Offence.
The Cross itself is offensive because it messages to humanity that, "you're lost. You need a saviour."
The Cross is a symbol of the need for salvation as much as anything else and you know what happened to the Early Christians in Acts they seemed to offend everyone.
Everywhere they preached, everything they said, they caused trouble.
Now, we're going to cause trouble.
The gospel in a fallen world, the nature of truth in a fallen world, it's going to cause trouble.
That doesn't mean we should try and cause trouble.
Gav's talked about the attitude of the heart here, having an attitude of compassion.
If we start on the right basis, if we take a gracious, loving, caring approach to the people around us then even though the gospel causes offence hopefully, the person that's delivering the gospel will be able to mitigate that in some way, in a way that the conversation can continue.
One of the problems we've got in our society today our consumer society is insulated by comfort.
People don't want to be uncomfortable.
Who wants to be uncomfortable?
But we're called to step out of comfort zones, we're called to be a splinter, if you like.
Christians all over the world are suffering terribly today because of the gospel.
And yet in our own society we have this insulation of comfort.
I do think that we need to be as our Speak Up resource at the Alliance shows about legal rights of Christians to share the gospel in public life, we need to be culturally sensitive.
We need to be professional when we're in work environment.
But goodness me, we need to step out and have a bit more bottle and a bit more courage and reach out through the love of God with the saving message of Jesus.