A Rock of Offense

Our small group has progressed only as far as Chapter 7 in Beautiful Outlaw, but it is finally new material for me. I had only gotten halfway through this chapter when we decided to read it as a group and I started over, so here we go…

The chapter is called “Disruptive Honesty,” and it deals with Jesus’s very pointed words where people need them most and when, and the internal turmoil it causes us as individuals. Near the end of the chapter, Eldredge dives into the matter of Christ being the one and only salvation of the soul. He discusses it at length, no glossing here, amen. Really now, how offensive is it to read, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me” (emphasis mine)? What an enormous point of contention. That cuts out every other beloved, enlightening philosophy humankind has ever cleaved to. As Eldredge states, “Offensive as the claim may be, we still have to deal with it. Either it is arrogant, or it is true.” (p. 76)

This chapter brought to mind something I heard in a sermon many years ago. The preacher said, “Everywhere Jesus went, he caused people to choose. Jesus always presents us a choice. Either we believe, or we don’t. Either we do what he says, or we don’t.” There’s no middle ground there. Middle ground with Jesus is not possible. This is very out of fashion in our modern, Western way of thinking. Eldredge goes on to elaborate this point:

 “The spirit of our day is a soft acceptance of everything—except deep conviction in anything. …The cry used to be for ‘tolerance,’ by which we meant, ‘We have very strong differences, but we will not let those be the cause of hatred and violence between us.’ Now it is something else. … Conviction might be a matter of personal opinion, but truth is like a great mountain, solid and immovable whether we like it or even acknowledge it. Christianity is not a set of convictions—it is a truth. The most offensive thing imaginable.” (p. 79)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul quoted Isaiah 8:14: “I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Rom. 9:33). We cannot encounter Jesus without choosing. Yes. No. Having to choose makes us uncomfortable, so we ignore the issue (or try to snuff it out) as much as humanly possible. Even those who already believe are being asked to act on something, somewhere, with someone. Yes. No. Ignoring him is the same as saying, “No.” Saying, “Maybe,” is the same as saying, “No.”

Old Picket Fence

“Old Picket Fence” by Sarah M Wolfe Photography, 2008

People tend to live quite comfortably on fences. I live there often myself. Concerning politics, to make certain investments with my time and energy, to speak tough love to someone, to listen to tough love that someone is speaking into me. But about the state of my soul? My eternity? That’s just too important. “Maybe” is easy, but it doesn’t go the distance. “Maybe” spares us discomfort, but it doesn’t resolve anything. “Maybe” Jesus is who he says he is. “Maybe” I have a soul. “Maybe” it will live on for eternity when my body dies. “Maybe” once I’m dead, I’m just dead and it won’t matter anymore. Maybe.

Sort it out. Yes. Or no. We cannot afford to waver on this one.

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4 thoughts on “A Rock of Offense

  1. sheri says:

    Court! As always I am your fan. I agree with what you have said. That is the best part about being a follower of Christ. God gives us all the chance to choose. I choose YES YES YES!!!!!

  2. Being a true servant of God is not easy. Because of this I find this a hard post to reply to.

    It is obvious that there is no place for ‘maybe’ when we are talking about the basic parts of Christianity. Sometimes there are hard choices to make. What is the right thing to do if a neighbour cannot pay their bills? Do you give them the money even though you are certain that next month they will get themselves into the same position or do you give them the advice which will cause them discomfort now but may solve their problems in the long term?

    • courtellyn says:

      What is the right thing to do if a neighbour cannot pay their bills? Do you give them the money even though you are certain that next month they will get themselves into the same position or do you give them the advice which will cause them discomfort now but may solve their problems in the long term?

      Maybe a bit of both?

      Interesting, the scenario you present here, Harry. The following chapter is about Christ’s cunning. How he handles tough situations with people that the rest of us dance around or avoid completely.

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