When Truth Offends

          The following message is connected to the themes shared in a video found at https://www.facebook.com/theworkofthepeople/videos/10153360469305682/?pnref=story.

After last week’s text about eating the flesh and blood of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, the disciples follow up in today’s text by saying, ‘This teaching is difficult.  Who can accept it?’  Jesus responds, ‘Does this offend you?’ Some disciples said yes and quit following Christ.  Peter on the other hands said, “To whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

The Gospel message is offensive!  It humbles us from our pride and reminds us that we are sinners in need of God’s grace through Christ EVERY single day.  The truth of the Gospel brings us to our knees in the conviction of our sins and lifts us back up in the promise of resurrection as a new creation; one that seeks God while living in brokenness. 

How we react to truth is another subject.  Is our learned behavior to get angry, defensive, or to remain calm while analyzing all sides of the issue?  No one can MAKE us angry or defensive.  That is a behavior that we have learned to deny our brokenness, and it can be replaced with healthier options.Facing our insecurity is not easy, but it is possible.  I’m as guilty as anyone and working hard to slowly make progress.

So yes Jesus, you offended people at every turn and you DO offend us today.  You offend us when you tell the wealthy ruler to give away all that he owns to the poor and follow you; when we are asked to give our hard-earned money and things to people who haven’t earned them; when you tell us that the first will be last and the last will be first in your kingdom (meaning that if we think good works will save us then we will find ourselves standing at the end of the line); and when you say creation is YOURS to be managed and not ours to be owned for ourselves.

          Yes Jesus, you DO offend us with the concept of unearned and undeserved grace when I want to think that I’ve earned your favor; when someone is caught breaking the law (like the woman caught in the act of adultery) and your reaction is to forgive when we want to punish; when you ask why point out the speck in another’s eye when we have logs in our own eyes; and when you prefer to be seen with dirty, lazy, disrespectful, addicted, convicted, arrogant, unemployed, and rejected rather than the righteous and pious.

          Yes Jesus, you DO offend us when we are told that all of the law hangs on loving God first and our neighbors as ourselves when we instinctively want to watch out for number 1 (ourselves) before anyone else; when you tell us to love our enemies leaving us scrambling to find exceptions to the rules in order to make us feel justified for hating; when you tell us to let go of the bitterness and anger that we hold towards those who have hurt us and to forgive up to 77 times in order to promote healing, forcing us to seek your will instead of our own.

Yes Jesus, you offend us.  And yet when we want to walk away like some of the disciples, we are STILL held in your grasp.  You bring us hope as we recognize thatin our weakness and vulnerability, we are made strong in you. You, O Christ, continue to hold us in your love and grace as we ask like Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

You teach us that through our baptism, we die to ourselves and resurrect to live in your love and mercy.  Thank you for loving us when we have turned against you.  Thank you for the grace that we so desperately need each day.  And thank you for salvation that was completed on the cross 2,000 years ago.  Help us to trust that you are already here and bigger than anything in this world.  And help us to be the faithful church in everything we say and do, each day of our lives.  Amen.