Jesus offends me, He totally does! In fact, I know He offends lots of people, perhaps even you, if you stop to honestly think about it. However, He doesn’t offend in the way we typically think of offense. Rather He offends by His Uncompromising & Unconditional LOVE!
That may not make sense right outta the gate, but hold tight and let’s dig into the offense that Jesus “causes” to see what we can find.
Jesus’s love is wholly offensive because it does not make sense. He loves EVERYONE (yep, even THAT guy!) and we cannot fathom how that is possible. That kind of unconditional love makes us uncomfortable. Often when we are uncomfortable we don’t know quite what to do with ourselves so we choose to avoid uncomfortable situations/people, etc. just to avoid the discomfort. Lots of folks sadly choose to avoid Jesus for exactly that reason.
The “uncomfortable” I am talking about has to do with Offense. That probably doesn’t make sense but hang in here with me. Offense makes you feel uncomfortable, it can make you angry and sick to your stomach. Often that is the case with offense, but that isn’t the angle I am coming from here. Rather, I am coming from an angle of Offense that seems Unjust – in a GOOD WAY.
That angle is LOVE and it does seem Unjust because it is a practice so rarely walked out these days. You may wonder how LOVE can be offensive, but think of these examples of Pure Love on display:
Ever heard of the parents of a murdered child forgiving and actually befriending the person who murdered their child? I know parents who have done exactly that. Or perhaps you have heard the story of the mother of a murdered daughter that actually ended up forgiving and adopting the murderer as her son??!!
Do those examples offend you? I have a feeling they did.
How about countless situations where children have deep, perhaps even physically abusive, wounds from their parents but instead of holding those wounds against them and turning their backs on them, they forgive them and deeply care for them, sometimes even taking them into their homes in their twilight years. It happens and I know several people like that who are choosing love and forgiveness towards their parent(s) for past wounds.
I have a feeling that display of love offends you as well.
Those examples are offensive because we live in a world that says we have a Right to be Angry. We live in a world that justifies that anger and even encourages using that anger/wound as a crutch or excuse to behave in awful ways to others, regardless of their involvement in the situation. We live in a world that says bad behavior deserves to be punished – forever and always.
But, that is not the way of love.
Please don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that abuse should be dismissed or that murder should be ignored and that either should go unpunished. What I am saying is that these examples show us that love and forgiveness are more powerful than anything else on this planet.
Love, can definitely be uncomfortable, especially true, real love, by that I mean Agape Love. This is love that comes from within you and it is something you need to receive and need to distribute but it is also something you cannot do on your own. I just heard you say this:
“WHAT? Gee, thanks a lot, nice to know it is something I need that I cannot do! Explain yourself, Pamela!”
OK, I will explain myself, thanks for sharing your thoughts and asking for an explanation. 😉 Here goes…
Whether you know Jesus or not, I’m certain you have heard the phrase: God Is Love. That statement doesn’t just list a character trait of God, rather it is His Essence. God isn’t just loving, He IS Love. God disciplines His children from Love. His every motive is Love. God even allows people to walk into such a depth of darkness that they never want to return to it (my personal testimony), because of Love. These statements are all absolutely 100% true and accurate. But, we have watered down love to such a degree that we no longer truly understand it, especially Agape Love. Agape Love being the Unconditional, All-Consuming, Infallible Love of God.
It’s hard to understand love because we measure it by worldly standards and by, if I may boldly say, TV and Movie scripts. We limit Love by seeing it as a feeling. We see Love as something we must Do. We see Love as a way to express our appreciation for things, as in, “I Love Lamp” or “I Love Coffee”. We have lost sight of the long-suffering of love, the choice love makes to not be offended, the stance love takes for truth to be revealed. We’ve decided that we have to tell other people how or who to love or, as it seems to be more common these days, who to hate. This breaks my heart because it is So Far Removed from God’s Love. I believe it is exactly why our world is in the state its in, we lack Love, which, when extrapolated, says we lack the recognition, adoration and reception of God’s Love.
Now, I could go on all sorts of tangents about who is to blame for this lack but what does that solve? Instead of trying to place blame, I’d rather encourage folks to jump into LOVE. Every Single Person is Worthy of Love. I don’t care what you’ve done, nothing ever disqualifies you from love. By that I mean, nothing disqualifies anyone from God. Its time the “church” as we’ve grown it/known it quits acting like a club with exclusive rights to God and His Favor. Instead the Church should be reflecting God’s Love to the Most Lost of the Lost. The Church should be more about going out to love the lost instead of sheltering in place. The Church should be less about Internal Comfort and more about walking with The Comforter. What if the Church was all about loving and serving the lost instead of just having a few people on a Board or Committee to serve that function?
Now, I can’t say I know exactly how that should look, but I know I can’t stop looking for how to help change it so the Church can operate Offensively. Meaning, I want to see the Church operate with such Love that the World can’t help but be flabbergasted and enthralled at the same time. Not as a gimmick to draw others in but as the True Way Jesus intended His Bride to be. After all, didn’t Jesus say this:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jesus hung out with Sinners, the “worst of the worst” in His time. He hung out with Tax Collectors, Lepers, Women of Ill Repute, even Samaritans, GASP! So, how does the the Church today only hanging out with the “saved” look anything like that?
I’m not trying to shame anyone into service. More so I want to Wake Up the Church into True Love. I want to spark people’s minds to allow Jesus to speak to them and through them. I want the Holy Spirt to Blow like Spring Winds drying out the muddied waters of religion and breaking forth New Life in Love.
If we claim to know and follow Jesus, our lives should absolutely reek of love. We should have the stench of love ALL over us so everyone we come in contact with gets a little love stank on them.
This love, Jesus’s Love, can be as simple as eye contact and a smile to a person who is “unseen” or it can be monetary in nature like buying someone’s groceries or gas, or can be relational like loving someone who “doesn’t deserve it”. This love knows no bounds and the wonderful thing about it is that the more we pour it out the more we have to pour out.
If you cannot see yourself loving in all the possible ways, might I humbly suggest that perhaps you don’t know love? By that I mean that you have perhaps never met the Person of Love. If you’ve met Jesus – Mr. Love Himself – you would know it. If you only have head knowledge about Jesus, time to get personal and allow Mr. Love to Wreck Your World. You were created to know love and give love and if your life feels short of that main thread, time to start at the beginning and get to know LOVE. I suggest starting by reading the Book of John. Grow to see yourself as John did, “the one whom Jesus loved”, then watch love wreck your world in a beautiful way.
Love will save the day, it already has, but walking in Love will Truly Save The Day and will transform our lives, families, cities, countries and world in miraculous ways. Join me today on this Love Brigade. Let’s Stink this World UP with our LOVE!
Whoever you are, and wherever you are, just want you to know, I Love You – I really do!