Sunday, December 01, 2019

Why Jesus' Death Still Offends People

This subject is an old one, but it is still provoking offence today. When people hear the Christian message and get the idea that God is going to solve the problems of the world as a result of Jesus' death by crucifixion nearly two thousand years ago, at times they are inclined to respond with, 'Is that really the best fix that God could come up with?' Behind that response is a serious misunderstanding that still causes people to be offended. Yes, it is a misunderstanding, and Christians have no intention to cause offence to anyone.
One criticism has to do with the idea that if God were really all that he is made out to be, all-powerful, all-loving and all-wise, then why is the world in such a state, of wars, disease, cyclones, floods, volcanoes, famines, addictions, prisons, domestic violence, murder, rape, poverty and death, and those things are only a start. So Christians then hear things like - 'Is that the best that your God could do by fixing the world's problems with a man being crucified?'

So, let's aim to set the record straight. The Bible is the Christian's ultimate authority, so my answers are based on its teaching.

Going back to Genesis, we find that the living God made all things through his creative command, and that everything then was very good. This included the unique creation of humanity, individual beings with personalities and moral responsibility to God. However, they were not automatons, but had the high honour of true freedom to love and obey God, or disobey him.
These people were the pinnacle of God's creation, and had been told there would be serious consequences if they ever disobeyed God. But they chose to disobey under the false impression they would become wonderfully wise and god-like. From then on we see the tragic beginnings of blame shifting, hiding from God, and the slide into further moral anarchy, and a ruined world as a home to fit their own defiant rebellion.

All attempts now to shift the blame onto God for all the world's ills should be redirected back to ourselves - we are the moral agents responsible for a broken humanity and a spoilt world. Notice that whatever you believe, for instance, theft, murder and rape, you reckon these are not normal 'good' human behaviours, but are wrong. This sense of morality comes from our God-given conscience. We know our humanity and the world is deeply abnormal, but now we know that God did not fail in trying to create a perfect world - for we are the moral failures.

The big penalty for our sinful rebellion is death. Death is not natural, it is alien and an enemy, but part of God's holy judgement that he said would happen, first as a death to the close relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed, followed by a physical degeneration ending in death, after which comes judgement.
This moral rebellion is so serious that only a solution from God would be able deal with it. This is where God's power, love and wisdom are shown in this world. This is when God sent his own eternal Son, Jesus Christ to be born into our humanity. Jesus was without sin and the only true representative able and willing to die on behalf of the guilty rebels. Only Jesus was willing to be publicly crucified, for all to see, in order to die, suffering the sentence others deserved. This was the one way God chose to satisfy his holy justice, so that all who now look in grateful trust to what Jesus fully accomplished in his death may freely receive God's forgiveness and a new life of peace with God.
But for those who think it absurd that one so high would stoop so low to death on a cross in order to save people from condemnation and reconcile them to God for ever, take offence at Jesus' death. This confirms what the Bible says that, 'the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing' but conversely, 'to us who are being saved it is the power of God' (1 Corinthians 1:18). This is also made clear that for those who reject Jesus' saving work that the same good news becomes 'A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence' (1 Peter 2:8).

Incidentally, secular beliefs may also cause offence, even though it is unintentional. On the basis of secular beliefs like atheistic humanism there is no final or objective basis for our true value or respect, so we finish up being nothing more than meaningless garbage.

But, if you have been offended by Jesus' death now is the time to see that it is the most amazing and wonderful revelation of God's mercy and love, which places an infinite value on humanity, and by which he will rescue all from everlasting destruction and bring them to know and love him. Now is the time to see you offence transformed into grateful wonder as you trust in Jesus, the one whom God raised from death to be the ever-living Saviour of all who will come to him

Article Source:

No comments: