My oldest son, Ryan, and I were recently discussing a sermon he heard about. It is a famous, or infamous sermon, preached regularly by Tony Campolo. The message begins like this: “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a s—. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said s— than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.” Right now I am picturing several of my readers choking on their morning bagel. Now you know why I suggested YOU write the title for this one! Mine would have landed this blog post in everyone’s “Hormel canned meat” file.
A recent Christianity Today article calls Tony Campolo, “The Positive Prophet.” I have to admit, he positively got my attention with that quote! Ryan told me that one of his fellow students at the seminary used this quote in preaching class and everyone liked his sermon. The problem is, the seminary can’t post it on their website because of that word. The point Rev. Campolo was making, and I think makes well, is that we may need to rethink what we find offensive. Have you ever noticed that a joke can seem funny in one context and offensive in another? Should the location a joke is told make that difference? Goodness knows, the lines for “appropriate” are blurred, if not erased, in our world today. We had wars in my home over what the boys should wear to church on Sunday morning. Those of you who see them in church already know this, but I lost that war. Interestingly, if I had to do it over again, I would not have gone to battle. Both of my boys know God, worship God, serve God and others…and they don’t feel the need to dress up to do that. I also know that if God wants them in a coat and tie, He will tell them, and my sons will follow God’s command. (Will you join their mother in prayer about this….Just teasing!)
What should offend us today? The same things that offend God. Warning: For those who still have a small piece of bagel lodged in your throat, you might want to tuck your toes in as well. God’s word is about to stomp. What offends the Creator?
- Hosea 6:5-7: Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with words of my mouth – then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. As at Adam, they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me there.
- Romans 1:32: Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
That is a small sampling of the many Scriptures that make this point: God isn’t honored by people because they know his word, but because they choose to live, obedient to his word. God is not honored by people who attend worship, but by the people who attend that truly give him their worship. God isn’t honored by people whose language is clean if their hearts are dirty. Ryan sent me this quote when he learned I was going to write on this subject. It is by C.S. Lewis. “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.” Today there are unborn babies that will lose their lives, there are elderly who will never get another chance to hear the gospel, and there are teenagers who will give away a little piece of their soul when they give away themselves. Let’s not just “know” what is wrong…let’s do something. It is time to give a ……..(write your own word here too!)