So a friend of mine twitted a verse that got me thinking. The verse says: “and blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” I almost cast it off since (I thought to myself) why would the Lord ever offend me? However, in this verse the Lord is not talking about Him personally offending someone; instead, the verse talks about someone being offended because of Him (Christ). This is actually really easy to do. In a world and time where Christians are looked upon as morons, imbeciles, uneducated, dumb and delusional people, it’s easy to not want to identify with the name of Christ, IE being offended. During my years in High School I always thought that once I was out, the ridicule would stop. This however turned out to a very erroneous assumption. The ridicule not only has increased, but now it uses mediums which during my time where not employed as obviously and direct as it is today. For example, movies, sitcoms, blogs, social media, music, books, etc…. It has become taboo to even mention anything Christian at work, school, in personal life with friends and or family. To work in a public sector, you must suppress the best thing in your life for fear of it offending someone else; that is, suppress your Christian beliefs (and yes, I specifically single out Christianity in this statement since it seems cool to be anything else BUT Christian…since as we all know we are so judgmental and hypocritical.) The world will use anything and everything to try and blame the name of Christ for atrocities committed and thus blame those who follow Christ. For example, I always hear that Christianity is as violent religion because of events like the inquisition and all the religious wars. Yet, the same people claiming this are not as adamant in proclaiming the fact that such senseless violence is not the message of the scriptures. “But what about the old testament!” some scream. “God is a violent bipolar prick”. With such accusation it’s easy to want to retreat into a little hole and never come out. However; again they fail to proclaim the fact that the context during those times was different than now. Back then, for a small tribe (comparatively) that the children of Israel were, it would have been impossible to survive without active protection (the violence). Moreover, in the face of such civilizations as the Babylonians and Assyrians, Israel had no option but to be violent, otherwise, they would have been taken captive and utterly destroyed (which actually they did end up in captivity and almost destroyed). Nevertheless these critics fail to shout the fact that God had strict rules of hospitality to foreigners and to people that were conquered. So that such people would not be mistreated and would have mercy from their captors.
So what does all this have to do with being offended on accounts of the name of Christ? Everything. We are tempted to be offended because we don’t know our savior. Moreover, we let these critics paint a picture of Him that is not true. No God has or will ever humiliate himself to become human and further still allow HIS own creation to beat the heck out of Him, spit on Him, Strip Him, and ultimately, kill him…you don’t hear these critics screaming that at the top of their lungs do you? But that’s what OUR God did. He Stripped Himself of all His majesty, humiliated himself to become us, allowed us to humiliate Him and kill Him. WHY? Because it was the ONLY way to redeem that which was lost. Because we, who are imperfect, broken, messed up, could never EVER pay the price that is necessary to redeem ourselves. We can never be good enough; we can never do enough good deeds. Karma is not sufficient. There is nothing, no one, nada, who has it so together that meets the standard of perfection. And so, since we can’t do it, God did it for us.
“God is not love because he sends people to hell”….I hear this all the time. That’s like saying you are responsible for killing a horse when you bring him close to water and he dies of dehydration because he doesn’t drink it. You can bring the horse to as many pools of water as you want, but if the horse does not want to drink, there’s nothing you can do. Can you force a horse to drink? Can you whip him enough? No. God has brought the river to us and He says, “Here, drink” but we are so proud! Well stiffen our necks and say “if you really love me, you won’t ask me to drink this water”. What we don’t realize is that this is the only fresh body of water available. God puts the river right at our feet and we won’t drink. God wont whip us to drink, nor will he force our mouths. All He can do is say, “Here, drink”. THIS is our true God. The one who LOVES us and Died AND ROSE again. Salvation is so amazing! It boggles my mind why anyone would not want it. Maybe because people don’t understand what it is. They see salvation as a bunch of rules; a religious exercise of Dos’ and Don’ts. A magic pill that will fix all your problems that may or may not work. I blame the church for these misconceptions (I’m included in this) because we have not been zealous in proclaiming the true identity of salvation. Nevertheless, it’s not too difficult to study the scriptures and see the true nature of God. We act as if it was God’s duty to come and rescue us. He didn’t have to that. He could have wiped out the whole lot of us and start all over. And He would have been right in doing so. (I know I would have!). But thank God, I’m not God. He is God and He has chosen to redeem us; to lay aside his majesty and to call us to Him. To love us, cherish us, keep us, and be with us.
Therefore, I am not offended by the name of Christ. I proudly proclaim to all who would hear, I am a Christian. Hate me, Love me, do as you will. But know, the God you think I serve (I speak to the critics) is not the One true and living God. You speak of things that you do not know. I have been on your side of the fence, and I have been on this side of the fence. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who my God is, and let me tell you, He looks nothing like what you paint Him as, and He also looks nothing like what most religious people paint Him as either. Case in point, if you really want to know what He looks like? Go search for Him. Genuinely, seek Him. Do like C.S. Lewis. By far, one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the privilege to be exposed to (his books). This guy was a hardcore atheist. And he determined to prove that he was right, only to come to understand God and love Him. Why? because he sought God genuinely, not through cynicism and jest, but through a genuine desire to know the truth. Lee Strobel is another one, a professional and exceptional journalist who sought out to apply his skills as a journalist to prove emphatically that God was not real, only to come to the realization that God truly is who He says He is. It is also noteworthy to state that scientist such as Fred Hoyle who is responsible for stating that:
Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule.” Of course you would . . . A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.
And what about Allan Sandage who stated:
There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming
Then later became a Christian. The point is that these people, who are insanely smarter than I, where able to determine and to accept the existence of God in spite of their stance against Him.
FOR THE CRITICS
If you are genuinely seeking answers. Than do so. Don’t hide behind put-downs and hypocritical statements.
Don’t be afraid to believe and be identified with Christ. Moreover, don’t be surprised when you are ridiculed for doing so. Did not our Lord say “if they persecuted me, they will persecute you too”? Don’t forget about the fact that Christians are killed every single day. Every….single….day. We may not be aware of it because we live cozy and safe here in America. However, in other countries, that’s not the case. People are beaten, burned, shot, bombed, etc. all for claiming the name of Christ. This is not an exaggeration and is truly happening. You know why they lay down their lives for Christ? Because, unlike most of us here in America, they know how awesome, beautiful, gorgeous, amazing our God truly is. Once you experience the love of God everything else is really not as important in comparison. We don’t have to be offended. I’m not offended.
Juan Castillo Jr.