On Offensive Theology

A critical moment arrives when Jesus says something that makes you mad.

Though Florida gets more than its share of hurricane activity, Louisiana is no slouch in that area.  Something about my home state seems to invite a weird kind of weather lab experience.  Like other gulf areas, Louisiana’s semi-tropical climate, plus massive doses of atmospheric electricity sometimes make for lightning storms worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster movie.  

I remember as a kid being intrigued with the violence of those events.  One time I scaled the metal tangle tower in our backyard in order to view a brewing storm.  Lightning strikes were just appearing on the horizon, together with pounding winds.  Our next door neighbor, occasionally the butt of jokes for being something of a dweeb (okay, the word hadn’t been invented in 1976, but you get the idea), came out and told me “If I were you, I’d get off those metal bars.”  Though the air was fairly crackling with electricity, his “suggestion” offended me.  

The dude was obviously a scaredy-cat.  An alarmist.  Negative.    

Besides, his careful “If I were you” remark stung me.

When I told my mother about it later, I figured she would see my point of view, and rail on him.  Instead, she agreed with the guy.    

Which made me even madder.

And what about the obvious danger of the situation?  Shouldn’t common sense have spoken enough to calm me down?  

Nope. 

Something in the human makeup detests truth, even when it’s for our own imminent good.  We don’t like it because the human constitution is largely made up of lies.  The most staid, logical person will suffer IQ reduction when emotions get involved.  

Even if it means getting hit by a bolt of lightning in your backyard.  

I posted a parable last week from Luke 20.  There, Jesus had portrayed the religious elite in an unflattering way, and had even gone on to warn of their destruction.  You’d think they would have at least been rattled.  

Nope. 

Lk. 20:19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.

If you perceive Jesus speaking about you, it would make sense to at least lose some sleep over it.  Certainly not attack the messenger.  Nor change the meaning of the message.  Or accuse God of being cruel. 

Some sobriety is in order.  Repentance.  

Instead, they were offended.  

These folks weren’t scared of Jesus a bit.  In fact, the only thing that terrified them was crowd approval.  They did their theology by what people thought of them—if pro-Jesus sentiments were afoot (which had been at that moment), they kept quiet, hiding their opinions in their hearts.  But when the crowd soured against Christ, the chief priests and scribes felt safe to launch a full-out attack on Him.  

When the truth comes along, it’s time to get off the tangle tower.  And that day long ago, I did.  Yes, I nursed a grudge against the next door dweeb, but thankfully never found out what it was like to have three hundred million volts of electricity surge through my body.    

The only thing that hurt that day was my feelings.

And I believe that in eternity, a lot of people will be singing the praises of One who hurt their feelings for a moment in order to  save them forever.

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