Sometimes we make the gospel more offensive than it needs to be. But I think the fear of being offensive at all has pushed large portions of the church in the opposite direction. Some of us need a healthy dose of backbone. (Myself included.)
1. Jesus used questions that led to answers.
Some of us have bought into the idea that questions for the sake of the questions is a virtue. Questions by nature are meant to drive us to answers. Jesus was a master of questions that drove his point (i.e. the answer) home. The next time you look at the gospels, make note of how often He uses questions, and how much value he places on getting the answers right.
2. Jesus could be intimidating.
Jesus fashioning a whip and cleansing the money changers out of the temple is a pretty well-known story. He’s also the one who after certain conversations seemed imposing enough that “no one dared ask him any further questions.” He spoke with so much authority in the temple that the Jews were amazed. Demons begged him not to send them into the abyss. The transfigured Jesus frightened Peter into speaking nonsense. And when John sees Jesus in Revelation he falls to the ground, utterly terrified.
3. Jesus did not try to befriend everyone.
We all liked to be liked and loved to be loved. Some of us even love to be liked, which is unfortunate. Jesus drew large crowds, then jumped right into hard teachings that turned many away. He never altered the message to try and bring them back. He wasn’t concerned with popularity. It came and went. He obeyed the Father.
4. Jesus was big on correct Theology.
It’s not uncommon to hear people in church say, “I believe the journey is more important than theology.” I’ve had someone mentally check out of a theological conversation by saying, “Well, I just try to be like Paul and just know ‘Christ and Him crucified.'” What he really meant was “this conversation isn’t really that important and I want to talk about something easy again.”
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness his defense was theology: “It is written…” “It is written…”
When confronted by the Sadducees about whose wife the seven-time married woman would be at the resurrection (which they didn’t even believe in to begin with), Jesus’ responds with criticizing their theology: ““Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24 ESV)
After addressing their question about the woman, the addresses their incorrect theology (based, interestingly, on the tense of a verb.) “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:26-17 ESV)
A servant is not greater than his master. Walk as Jesus walked.
I came across this video via http://4simpsons.wordpress.com
The interviewer moves from talking with people about the holocaust, then abortion, and ends up with most of the people considering the gospel. Most of the interviewees end up changing their view on abortion on the spot (hence the name of the video, “180”)
This is also an excellent study in the power of carefully thought out questions. What Greg Koukl over at Stand to Reason would call the “Colombo tactic” (after the seemingly inept detective from the show Colombo)
It’s 33 minutes long, but worth every one.
One word of warning, there are some graphic images.