This last year I noticed an interesting paradox in our society. First, our culture has a continuing love-affair with fame. It seems folks will do or say almost anything to be noticed by others. But in 2016, the pursuit of popularity ran headlong into another emerging trend in our society: we are offended easily and, seemingly, by everything.
It is quite a tightrope to walk…being popular and not offending.
Jesus wasn’t good at walking this tightrope. In fact, he never tried. Though he avoided the spotlight, he was very popular. Crowds followed him everywhere he went. But at the same time, he offended folks along the way. He didn’t offend just to offend, of course. He simply told the truth, in love – and sometimes that can be a bit unpleasant to hear.
So here is a list of ten things Jesus said that will never go viral…will never make a bumper sticker or t-shirt…will never be re-Tweeted (the list comes from Nicholas Davis).
- “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:41, NLT)
- “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now.” (Luke 6:24, NLT)
- “All of you will desert me.” (Mark 14:27, NLT)
- “You fools!” (Luke 12:56, NLT)
- “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NLT)
- “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21, NLT)
- “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NLT)
- “Dear woman, that’s not our problem…” (John 2:4, NLT)
- “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29, NLT)
- “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”” (Matthew 8:22, NIV)
Can you imagine the headlines these quotes would make in today’s papers? Statements like these led the Apostle Paul to speak of the gospel message as a “stumbling block” and even tongue-in-cheek as “foolishness.” Jesus’ own disciples describe his “hard sayings” as pushing people away (see John 6:60-66).
In the end, there were only 120 followers left who hadn’t been offended by Jesus. Well, that’s probably not true. There were only 120 disciples who pushed past initial offense to embrace the underlying truth…the truth that we humans are sinful creatures…the truth that we can’t fix ourselves…the truth that we need a savior.
These are abrasive truths, to be sure. Re-Tweetable or not, they remain true, nonetheless. If you haven’t already, I hope you will embrace the truth that Jesus loves you despite your imperfections and he’s waiting for you with open arms. Meet him at church this week!