Offensive Christianity?

By Curtis Rittenour
Posted August 01, 2016

When Lois McGinnis, owner of the Cedar Springs Christian Store, decided to run a sales ad in the classified section of her local newspaper, she was surprised to discover a few days later that the announcement was missing from the paper.

She called the newspaper office to inquire about what happened, and what she was told shocked her. The representative said the ad did not run because it contained an offensive word. When she asked what word was offensive, the person said, “Christian.” Strangely, the newspaper hadn’t even called to let her know of the issue—even though it did charge her for the service.

After McGinnis posted about what happened on her store’s Facebook page, the newspaper phone’s lit up and soon an apology was issued. The paper explained, “We had a system failure, which resulted in a classified ad for Cedar Springs getting hung up in our front-end system. We corrected the technology issue … and the ad is now running for an extended period at no extra charge.”

This small kerfuffle might seem a little absurd, but it also gives Christians a chance to reflect. The apostle Paul speaks of Christianity as something that will offend people naturally. When writing to the church in Galatia, he writes about the “offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). Another time he describes Jesus as “a stumbling stone and rock of offense” (Romans 9:33).

Of course, we should never go out of our way to offend people when sharing our faith—shoving our beliefs where they aren't wanted. Paul encouraged believers, “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32). He also told Felix, when defending himself before the governor, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16). It is not Christ-like to be belligerent about our Christian beliefs.

But neither should we live in silence about our views. Jesus tells us, “Let your light so shine before men” (Matthew 5:16). Still, we shouldn’t be surprised when the world lashes out at the Christian faith, with which it is at war. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). There will be times and places where being a Christian will be an offense.

Let us not be surprised or reactive, but stand boldly for the One who “was delivered up because of our offenses” (Romans 4:25). Learn more about facing difficult trials for your faith by listening to Pastor Doug Batchelor’s sermon, “In the Lion’s Den.
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