“That’s where you’re wrong and you need to read your Bible better.”
Depending on how you read that quote, it’s cruel or it’s kind. Let me save you some interpretive trouble: it was meant to be dismissive.
The conversation was on that great theological arena called Facebook. Someone had made a comment another Christian obviously disagreed with and they’d had enough. They laid into that person and was vicious.
They accused the other Christian of watering the faith and then laid on them more hammering than most of us would put on Facebook.
All of this was done under the guise of an attitude of “deal with it; the Bible is offensive.”
But this person was just being a jerk.
Yet, this person was right: The Bible IS offensive. Read what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:5-7:
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
1 Timothy 2:5-7
New International Version
Paul is trying to strengthen the younger Timothy who is apparently being a little too shy when it comes to the boldness needed about the Good News of Jesus in his Roman world. There is no other god, but God. This was powerfully offensive in the pluralistic, Roman world.
The Gospel is offensive to people; there’s not much we can do to take the sting of this away. It doesn’t mean we’re jerks about it and relish in the fact that we get to poke people in the eye. That’s not Good News.
But it also means we don’t have to shy away from it as if we need to be apologetic about it. This is life and death here!
There is only one way to God the Father and that’s through the ransom paid by Jesus. Jesus Himself stated, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6b, NIV). The entire purpose Jesus came was to offer His life for ours. We only have life because of the death (and life!) of Jesus.
Jesus is the mediator of our covenant with God. It was He who paid the price we rightly deserved to die. The speaks to the substitution Jesus was for us. It was our death Jesus died. It was our sin He paid for.
Ultimately, the death of Jesus was an act of divine love. It wasn’t God the Father abusing His Son who was powerless in the situation. Nope. Jesus laid down His life; He willingly did it. The love of the Father is also the love of the Son.
This message is offensive to our pluralistic Western world. And those who are offended today are not content to sit back and just be offended.
Instead, the pluralism of our day often is aggressive towards our faith. From lawsuits attacking a church’s nonprofit status to pastors’ housing allowances, from threats to not speak on moral and ethical issues of our day to protests against laws designed to protect the unborn, our certainty of the truth of which Paul writes has never been more needed.
I’ve written and spoken this more than once: we don’t need to be doing the offending, but the Gospel WILL offend. And we should let it. The truth hurts, but it sets us free (cf. John 8:32).
Dear ones in Jesus, the price to pay for our shyness in speaking the truth of God is our friends, family members, and coworkers could very well be their eternity spent apart from God in Hell. Tough words. But true words.
Our purpose right now is to be a herald sounding the truth:
Sin separates us from God.
God built a bridge to Himself through Jesus.
The gift of eternal life and forgiveness is offered by God through Jesus.
We walk across the bridge when we turn from our sin and confess Jesus as our Lord.
It’s exclusive. It’s close-minded. It’s narrow. It’s hard.
It’s true. It’s hope. It’s grace. It’s life.
Don’t shy away from the truth: it will raise the dead.
Interested in more like this? Consider my book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs.
Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, I walk readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life.
The goal? Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.