Jump Start # 2363
Matthew 10:12 “Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?’”
Jesus would be in trouble today. To offend someone in this current culture is the end of a career. Newscasters and sports analysists have lost their jobs because they said something that offended their audiences. The new theology of the day doesn’t offend anyone. A local news program highlighted a denominational pastor who serves as a bartender. He combines beer and the Bible. He’s reaching out to those who can’t find a church that fits them, so his “new” church is a bar. In an interview, this modern preacher said that the church must change with culture. That is the flavor of the month. Don’t say anything about sin, because that may offend some and they will threaten to stop coming.
Our verse follows a sharp exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees. It was headed for the shoot out at Matthew 23 where Jesus calls them hypocrites and eventually to the cross, where the Pharisees thought they had the final word.
The Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. This was not about hygiene, but Jewish traditions of ceremonial washings. The Lord’s disciples broke with tradition. The Pharisees felt that the sky would fall. In this exchange, Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees didn’t keep the commandments of God. Thus the moral teeter-totter. Keeping the traditions of men or keeping the commandments of God. The Lord and His disciples were commandment keepers. To further illustrate the problem, Jesus identified what was really going on. The Pharisees worshipped God with a heartless faith. It was in vain. It wasn’t doing them any good and it certainly wasn’t honoring God.
With this, the conversations ends, at least for now. They part. The disciples reported that the Pharisees were offended. Did you know that Jesus? Sure He did. He knew their worship was vain. He knew their heart wasn’t with God. He knew.
This brings us to the delicate topic of offending. It is the plague of our times.
First, some like to offend people on purpose. “Shock-rock” is nothing more than offensive, in-your-face, music that is prejudice and meant to get people upset. It’s all about the singer trying to draw attention to themselves. I expect had they really great ability to write songs, they wouldn’t be doing this. But in an industry where everyone is trying to be on top and get noticed, one will do anything to get there. The latest is a singer who condemns “rich, old, white men” in her song that is laced with explicit words. Now suppose a guy is old, white, male and has made some money in his life? Isn’t those words offensive? The singer is offended by him, yet thinks nothing of offending a whole class of people who can’t do anything about their race, age or sex.
Second, although the truth offends, especially those who are in error, there is a way to present it. Throughout the N.T. kindness and gentleness are found surrounding the word correct. Correct with gentleness. Let the punch be from the word of God, not the language, tone, or, ‘in-your-face’ approach that we might use. God’s word is powerful. It’s sharper than a sword. It’ll do all the cutting necessary. We don’t have to make it sharper by having a sharp tongue.
Third, in our passage, Jesus never apologizes, nor changes His message because some were offended. Among brethren, the threat to leave, is used to hold preachers hostage today. “You better not say anything about divorce, or, we’ll leave. And, we’ll take others with us.” Such threats show a disregard for the word of God and the people of God. I had a guy once yell at me, “You better get an attorney.” My brother happens to be a lawyer. I told him, I have one. Have your guy call him. Let’s be honest, truth stings. When a person is not doing right and they come to the intersection where they find God’s word, either they will change their ways or they will fight God. Most times, they will fight the messenger of God’s word. There are moral issues that causes the blood to boil in some. Homosexuality, divorce for any reason, abortion, transgender issues, same-sex marriage, legalizing drugs, sex before marriage, responsibility and accountability—everyone has an opinion on these, and so does God. It just happens that His opinion is the one that counts. Our country may be a democracy, but our relationship with God is not. If it were, we’d vote sin in. Preaching about these topics is necessary, tough, delicate, and will touch a sore spot with some. The preacher of the Gospel cannot hide from cultural issues. The young people today need to know what God says about these things.
Just as there is “shock-rock,” there can be “shock-preaching.” It’s shocking not because of the topic, but because of the delivery. Don’t use offensive words. Dive into those subjects with facts, Scriptures and honesty. You are appealing to hearts and heads. You are trying to get people to see what the Lord says. Your intention is to bring people to Christ, not to offend them and drive them away.
Fourth, what is to be done when someone claims you have offended them? First, let them speak. Those very words puts us on the defensive. It makes us back pedal and look for ways to come out looking good. It may be that we used a term, or were too emotional and we did offend. That doesn’t change the topic nor what God says. If you did, apologize, then get back into the topic with a level head. But, it may be they were offended because you stepped on their toes. God’s word, when taught accurately, does not need to be apologized for. God has His reasons for saying what He does. Righteousness prevails over our personal interests and agendas. You can’t fit an unrighteous lifestyle into a garment of righteousness. It just won’t fit. And, some may get upset. Some may scream and holler. Some may even leave. Some may say things that are not accurate, true or even kind. In their anger, they may offend those who are standing with God.
Jesus tells us that there are those who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. They do not want to change. They’d rather find a pastor who serves beer in a bar and worship there, than to change their lives to conform to Jesus.
Finally, if we make it our goal not to offend anyone, then we will have to water down the Bible and only talk about certain things. The twisted thinking of modern theology only sees a God of love. And, accordingly, if God loves, anything goes. So, when a lifestyle is at odds with a verse, it’s the verse that is tossed, because God loves. God so loves, moderns think, that He even changes His message just to accept people.
When Peter preached, the audience was pierced to the heart. Later in Acts, the audience was cut to the quick. When Paul preached the resurrection of Jesus, some sneered. If the message doesn’t make one think, challenge them or move them, then what’s the point. My hero, Dee Bowman says that preaching ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” That’s it!
So, we need to be telling folks about what God says about abortion, homosexuality, sex before marriage, and many cultural issues that are nothing more than sin. Don’t run from these conversations at work. Sure, you’ll be seen as outdated, out of touch and even a bigot and prejudice. Some won’t like you. Some will say, “You offend me.” But if you are nice, holding your ground with Scriptures, you’ll quickly see that sin has no justification. There is no substance to support it. “Show me when God changed what He said about homosexuality? I’m interested in seeing that. Where is that? Was there another Bible that came out?” There is nothing that can be said. Error will raise the temperature. It will shout, scream, point fingers, but it’s not rational, logical and of all things, not Biblical. Just stick with the Scriptures.
Jesus offended. Today, He’d be the lead story on cable news. How wrong He is, some would say. Politicians, athletes, musicians would all jump on the bandwagon of how offensive Jesus is. They’d boycott Him. They’d say mean things about Him. They’d hold rallies against Him. They have petitions banning Him from appearing in certain places. They would feel so righteous and smug in their sinful hearts.
Jesus offends. Jesus offended me. Then I realized I was the one that was wrong. I changed my heart and found forgiveness, hope and a wonderful life with the Savior. We all have been offended by Jesus. The question is, what did we do? Did we walk away from Jesus or did we see that He was right and that He loved us enough to tell us the truth? Did we change and become better?
“You offend me.” Yes, I understand. I’ve been offended to. Now, let’s take a look at why you feel that way.