only help my unbelief

Offending others or offending God?
June 19, 2008, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Posts | Tags: , , ,

Note: I hesitated before I wrote this post. In fact, I wrote it yesterday (Wednesday) evening, but didn’t publish it because I wanted to think some more and also run it by someone else. I talked about it with someone I trust, and that person said that it sounded gracious. I hope it does. Even now, after it’s been up for several hours and a lot of people have found their way here through Pastor Lukaszewski’s blog, I’ve gone back in and tweaked some things that I felt could be misconstrued. I apologize if anything that was in the post previously was unedifying or disrespectful.

I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis. I try to read a wide variety: Some are personal finance, some are news, some are from moms, some are from people I know, and some are from pastors.

One blog I read is by Michael Lukaszewski, pastor of Oak Leaf Church. I had planned to leave my thoughts on this as a comment on his blog, but he turned off all comments a couple weeks ago, so I wasn’t able to.

Yesterday he wrote a post about offending other people. Let me first say that although I generally tend to feel uncomfortable at a lot of stuff I read on his blog, when I think about it, sometimes it’s really just things that are a matter of opinion or of personal liberty in the Lord. So even when I do disagree, it’s still not something that I feel the need to comment on.

I say that because when I read this post, I really felt like I needed to say something, because it got me thinking.

His basic point is that it’s Christians who get offended at things that go on at his church. He’s right in that Christians can be really sensitive about a lot of things – sometimes to an extreme. He goes on to say that the things his church has done that have bothered Christians haven’t bothered unbelievers.

And it seems like his conclusion is that this “silent approval” by unbelievers is what the church wants, because they don’t want unbelievers leaving the church.

If I were to get pregnant and decide to have an abortion, I think that a lot of Christians I know would be offended. But most of the non-Christians I know wouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean it’s OK. (I know this is an extreme example.)

I’m not saying that the stuff that goes on at Oak Leaf Church is on the same level as abortion; it’s not. In fact, I think Pastor Lukaszewski would argue that the things Christians got upset about were methods of reaching unbelievers for Christ; in fact, he calls them “over the top” methods in this post.

Where I think his reasoning really falls apart is when he says:

If a Christian gets offended at something we do, he will get mad and go to another church. If a non-Christian gets offended, he may go to hell.

I don’t disagree. If a non-Christian gets offended by something at a church and decides to leave, that person might go to hell. But what does it mean to “offend” a non-Christian?

Derek Webb said something once about how the cross is both beautiful and offensive. It is beautiful to us as Christians, because on it we see the body of our dying Lord, who died to save us from our sins. But for non-Christians, it is offensive, because it tells them they are sinners who deserve what Jesus got.

If a non-Christian gets offended at the cross, they might leave the church and never know more about Christ’s saving work. But if a non-Christian attends a church where the cross is never preached, they can stay at the church and rack up the attendance count for years and still go to hell.

But the important thing isn’t so much about which group is being offended. The real issue is whether God is offended that a place that calls itself His church isn’t really preaching the gospel.

I’m not saying Pastor Lukaszewski doesn’t preach the gospel at his church. I don’t know; I’ve never been there. His church is doing a study on the book of Joshua right now, which is awesome. But I do know that what saves people is not entertainment, or smoke and mirrors, or catchy sermon titles, or cool videos, or all the things that so many churches are using today. God saves people. And God’s been saving people for thousands of years without all those things. What He asks of us is a commitment to prayer and evangelism – but, more importantly, a commitment to preach the gospel as God sets it forth in Scripture.


5 Comments so far
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I must admit I’ve found my unemployed self reading your blog on occasion. Great work. Very thought provoking.

How’s the internship?

Comment by Brian Davis

The big question now is this; Who are authorized to preach the Gospel ? Are you,? or your pastor ,? or maybe, someone who happen to read four verses and then started preaching ? are they authorized by God to preach the Gospel ? Can you answer this question…?

Comment by dove124

Dove124, that is a great question.

The hours are getting to be late now, but your question is definitely material for a post tomorrow afternoon or evening. Thanks so much for stopping by. God bless!

Comment by chelseykarns

good words…

i think christians are offended really easily because we tend to think that things have to be done the way that we’ve always had them done (this is also done in lots of other things in life…). i think this can cause a lot of problems…however, don’t misjudge. oak leaf has a heart for reaching people. it’s not about anything flashy. it’s about God’s love and grace. and we’ll do anything, short of sin, to reach people.

very good though…thanks for the accountability!

Comment by Nathan

I was brought here by a search for someone who left a strange comment on my blog. They apparently left a one on yours as well, so I decided to read your post to find out more.

Your post is very good. We don’t need to be worried about offending people if we are truly speaking God’s Words. Most likely there are people everywhere that will feel offended and persecute us for the sake of the Lord. His Word is truth, and if spoken correctly and practiced we need not worry about our church numbers (for they will be added daily), we shouldn’t worry about offending people (for it is their choice to accept Jesus or not – we can only help show them the way-hopefully not done in an abrasive manner), and we should speak of the entire bible (for leaving parts out is not giving God the glory for His word). We are not here to please the world, but to please God. It can’t be both, only one or the other. We must seek the Lord always in our lives and pray so we know His direction. For God’s plans will be revealed and He will give us direction.

Comment by letlightshine

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