Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Offense of the Cross

The Offense of the Cross Posted by Hello

Recently, over lunch I was dialoguing with a close friend about how some people are so "offended" by one's faith as a Christian. My practical take on expression or sharing of my faith can be found in St. Francis of Assisi's challenge – “Preach the Gospel everyday. Use words when necessary.”

Written eight hundred years ago, these words have resonated in my heart for many years, but I was never sure where they would take this wretched sinner saved by grace along this path called the Christian life.

There is something powerful, yet elegantly simple when I see God heal a broken marriage, or a man do a 180 from a destructive lifestyle of addiction to pornography or reconciliation between a father and son.

On a recent flight from Phoenix to North Carolina, I sat next to Jodie, a precious 21 year old girl, who shared about her recovery from crack cocaine since age fourteen. She then asked me, "Does a God exists?"

"Yes," I replied, "because there is purpose and destiny for your life." She knew that her knowledge and academic schooling weren't enough to snatch her out a downward spiral in a hellish life style where she saw death around her. I shared with Jodie about grace - which she understood from the heart rather than with her mind.

"God is using you Jodie, to salvage lives, because you bring understanding and compassion." I shared a verse that explained it all to her - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians

The New Geneva Study Bible says, in its notes for Galatians 1:3, "Each of Paul's letters begins with a reference to blessings from God. 'Grace' translates the Greek charis, which means 'an undeserved act of kindness'. Paul uses this word more often than any other New Testament writer and gives us immense theological significance. It refers to all that God has given us in Christ; nothing of which we have earned or can repay."

2 Posted by Hello

The Offense of the Cross message by Charles Spurgeon addresses the question I posed to my friend about offense...

"First, let me say that it is very foolish for a man who does not believe the gospel to oppose those who do.

If a man personally does not love the gospel, he should leave others alone that do. He does not love the gospel; and because others do, he hates them. Why, surely, what you do not want yourselves, you might let other people have in peace! You need not oppose them for carrying away what you consider worthless rubbish. Why should you be so offended, and endeavor to make a stand against the truth, since you cannot, in your present condition, get anything out of it?"

How can the drowning man be offended with the rope which is thrown to him, and which is the only means of his escape; how can the dying patient be offended with the cup of medicine which is put to his lips, and which alone can save his body from death; how can the man whose house is burning be offended with the fireman who roughly puts the ladder against his window-likewise, how is it that you would be offended with Christ."

So what is my response? I'm going to heed St. Francis of Assisi's advice; "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy."

3 Posted by Hello

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