We are told that, as we minister the gospel of Jesus to others, we are to make sure the only offence they face is that found within the gospel itself. And the gospel is a message which does indeed offend the proud. The Apostle Paul describes the reactions he faced as he shared the good news of Jesus:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Cor 1v22-25)
The ‘offensive’ component of the gospel is that we creatures cannot save ourselves. Our good works, no matter how good, still fall short of the perfect standards of our Creator. We cannot save ourselves so we are dependent on God himself to save us. This is what Paul calls the ‘offence of the cross’ (Gal 5v11).
The gospel of Jesus Christ can only be received by the humble, by those ready to accept that they need a Saviour in Jesus Christ and cannot save themselves from the coming judgement we have considered as we studied the book of Nahum. And even this humility, this accepting of a free gift of grace by faith, is a work of God himself.
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved … For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 3v3-9)
But those who carry this gospel of Jesus Christ to others are to do all they can to keep from causing offence – other than to change the message they proclaim.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews … To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor 9v19-23)
This principle has been taken to new lengths recently with the advent of a new website aimed at helping church Pastors get trendy. No more plain chinos and a blue shirt for us. Ed Young has great plans. [*Groans* O, I hope that this is a terrible joke.]