"On the Offensive"
September 27, 2014
But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19-20
Please forgive me for the joke which follows:
Two years ago a woman went to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. When she reached the front of the line, she asked, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"
"Certainly, ma'am," the clerk replied, "What denomination?"
"Oh, my goodness, have things come to this?" the woman gasped. "What denomination? Let me think. All right, give me six Catholic, twelve Lutheran, five Baptist, seven Assemblies of God, and nine Methodist. For all the rest, give me stamps of Elvis. I don't think he'll offend anybody."
Now I thought that joke was cute because we all know the government will never, ever put out Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist Christmas stamps. The cost would be prohibitive, and it would be politically incorrect to do so.
It's no news to you we live in a country where political correctness and a desire not to offend anyone is the name of the game.
Now, having heard those words, you might rightly ask, "But, pastor, aren't Christians supposed to do their best not to offend others?" It's a good question which deserves a good answer. I hope you're not too surprised when I tell you God's answer to that question is to please be inoffensive most of the time.
That's right, most of the time we are to be inoffensive. But there is an exception to the rule: there is a time when we as Christians must offend. The offense we are to give is aptly called, the "offense of the cross."
In Acts 4 you can see the offense of the cross in action. Peter and John had been arrested by the Jewish Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin. After their hearing, the disciples were instructed not to teach or preach about Jesus. It was a simple request, and the disciples could easily have obeyed. They didn't. They replied, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
They gave the offense of the cross.
Today, committed Christians and faithful Christian pulpits continue to give the offense of the cross. Although salvation through the blood-bought sacrifice of the Savior is a religion of peace and joy, it produces feelings of hatred in the hearts of political, religious and intellectual leaders around the world.
* The politician is offended by the cross because, rather than looking to the state for help, believers trust the crucified and risen Redeemer.
* Other religions are offended by the cross because Jesus' people believe only through the Savior's cross and empty tomb can they be saved.
* Intellectuals are offended by the cross because the grace of God, as shown in the Savior's sacrifice, defies rational explanation and scientific measurement.
On a global scale the Christian faith is being told to shut up and shut down. If we want to be inoffensive, we can easily do as we are asked, or we can echo Peter and John by confessing, "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us be bold in sharing the story of the Savior who gave His life so we might have life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Check out Lutheran Hour Ministries' video sermon series, "Footsteps of Paul." Click here!
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries