by Josiah Potts.
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Pic by by AlyssaKayeGraham
I hear things in the Church world such as "the Gospel was offensive”, "I must speak truth", and my personal favorite "I must speak the truth, even if it is offensive.” These philosophies, while well meaning, only seem to drive a wedge between Christians and those we claim we are trying to reach.
To me, these statements seem quite contrary to the life of Jesus. Yes, people were offended by Jesus. Yes, He did speak the truth; and no, He did not water down the gospel. It is interesting though that when Jesus spoke truth or preached salvation, it was the sinners who were the most receptive.
Mark Chapter 2 gives an interesting account of Jesus asking a tax collector (the worst sinner of the time) to follow Him. Not only did Matthew follow Jesus but he threw a party in honor of Jesus; and all of his tax collector friends and sinners showed up to meet Him. Mark actually says there were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.
I just want to point out some interactions Jesus had with people:
The Gospels are full of Jesus interacting with the broken, the hurt, and the sinner; and they loved Him. Who were the ones who were outraged, the ones who opposed Him the most? The rule followers, the religious. They were the ones who thought they could achieve perfection in their own strength; the ones who thought their sacrifices were good enough.
Here is what I am learning: hearing the voice of Jesus for myself is the only thing that gives me power to change. I can hear the rules over and over again, but if i am always focused on the rules, I will always fail. I don't think Jesus' motive for hanging with the sinners was to get them to stop sinning, but to give them life. When Jesus speaks to my heart, I feel encouraged. I feel like He has everything under control. I never feel condemned, ashamed, or abandoned. When He speaks, the depths of my being cry out to connect. However, when I hear the Law, I feel worthless, powerless, inadequate, and alone.
Wasn’t that the point of the Law? It was to get us to recognize that we will never be good enough in and of our own effort. The Law was put in place to point us to Jesus, the One who could fulfill the Law's requirements. Since the Law was meant to point out our imperfections, why would we ever try to use that as the instrument to affect change?
I think our job as a Christian is to point to the solution, not the problem. Here is what I need. I need a community who is less concerned about the symptoms of sin and are more concerned about me finding the cure. I need people who will stand alongside me and walk beside me in this life. I need the friend who will speak to my identity and call me family. I need friends who will haul my paralyzed butt up on top of a roof and get me to Jesus. I need friends who will stand up for me when the accusers are threatening me. I need people to just get me to Jesus.