Home Opinion The Offensiveness of the Gospel

The Offensiveness of the Gospel


Kevin Sartin
Theology Columnist

We are a people easily
offended, a fact readily
observable to anyone even
remotely societally aware
today. Stories that bear
out the reality of this burgeoning
social phenomena
fill the headlines and the
pages of social media.
One ready example is the
recent incident involving
the Yale student who publically,
verbally accosted
a professor because of an
email that professor’s wife
(also a Yale professor) sent
questioning whether the
college should be policing
students’ Halloween costume
choices to protect
others from offense. That
student’s obscenity-laced
tirade accused the professor
of not “creating a place
of comfort and home” for
students simply because
of his support for the idea
that, in the place of Yale’s
administration creating
and enforcing an exhaustive
list of costumes to be
forbidden based on perceived
offensiveness, students
might simply “look
away” when encountering
another student dressed
in a costume they might
find offensive. What blatant
insensitivity is being
displayed at institutions
of higher learning!
For those who are not
news watchers, there’s
always the possibility of
staying updated concerning
the latest breaking
violations of human dignity
by perusing cutting
edge, progressive websites
like www.microagressions.
com, a place where
concerned readers can
share vicariously in the
terrible, tragically offensive
situations others are
facing every day by reading
their posts describing
said events. Here’s an
example of one traumatic
experience posted on that
site: “I’m shopping for a
birthday card for my dad.
He’s black. All the cards
are for white dads.” And
another: “”How did you get
an American passport?”
U.S. border guard to me,
an Asian American.” When
did we become so thinskinned?
Sadly, the mindset present
in the incidents and
stories like the ones described
above is becoming
commonplace in society
today. In this present culture
of microaggressions
and trigger warnings, white
privilege and social justice
warriors, society at large
has somehow arrived at
the place of believing that
every person is entitled to
some “safe-space” bubble
where nothing that could
possibly be interpreted
as offensive is ever seen
or heard. Contemplating
the deeper psychological
reasons why this hypersensitivity
to offense exists
and is increasingly
coming to define society at
large is surely something
that’s best left to mental
health professionals, but
here’s a possibility submitted
for the reader’s
consideration: This growing
societal tendency to
take offense at any and
every perceived slight,
intended or otherwise,
surely has its roots in the
pride and the predisposition
toward self-exaltation
that lurks in the hearts of
all men and women of all
ages and races from all
social classes. It would
stand to reason that pride
and self-exaltation are at
the heart of a disposition
that is easily offended,
because offense comes
from perceived disparagement,
or the feeling that
one is being made out to
be less than they believe
themselves to be. When
an individual’s deep sense
of satisfaction derived
from achievements or from
one’s perceived qualities
and attributes is attacked,
pride rears its head and
responds in anger at the
threat to the individual’s
precious self-worth. In
other words, that individual
becomes offended.
If the problem is pride,
then there really is only
one remedy for that affliction
– and it’s not removing
every potential source of
offense from the public
square. The only remedy
for the affliction of pride is
the heart-transformation
that comes from surrendering
to the truth of the
Gospel (the good news
that Jesus Christ died to
pay the penalty for our sin
so that we might be reconciled
to God through faith).
However, in what might
be the ultimate example
of irony, that same Gospel
that is the only cure for
the pride that leads us to
be quick to take offense
just so happens to be the
most offensive message
in existence. The Gospel
is offensive because it is
not just an indictment
against bad behavior, it is
an indictment against who
we are at the core of our
being. The Gospel reveals
that our problem is not
just that we have done
bad things, but that our
rejection of God and our
disobedience of His commands
stems from sin and
rebellion that is a part of
who we are. We need more
than behavior modification.
We need to be made
new from the inside. We
need to experience what
Jesus called being “born
again” in John chapter 3.
In order for that to take
place, we must willingly
embrace what the Gospel
says about us, and we
must humble ourselves
and receive by faith from
God’s hand the only remedy
for our sin nature – the
imputed righteousness of
Jesus Christ. Once we do
that, then we are on our
way to living in freedom
from being victims of perpetual
offense. That’s why
Jesus could instruct his
followers to “turn the other
cheek” when they were
insulted. It’s why Paul in 1
Corinthians 13 described
the love that characterized
Christ-followers as being
“not easily offended.”
Pride is the issue, and
the Gospel is the answer.
If you are triggered by
that reality, then the good
news is now you know that
you need to do something
about it.