Jesus Offends Me
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 1 Peter 2:7-8
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
In pondering today’s passage, I couldn’t help but think of this quote from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. In it, as the children in the tale are about to meet the great lion Aslan – the story’s Christ figure – they become fearful. Is he safe? Mr. Beaver laughed at the idea. Aslan was a lion and as such, he was anything but safe. But, Mr. Beaver promised, he was good.
This is central to the Bible’s teaching on Christ – and it’s one I’ve preferred to avoid. I love the parts of the Bible that teach about Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness. When I was drowning in my addiction, I preferred a God who loved me the way I was and who forgave me for all my failures. Those things are all true, but if I stopped there, I’d only know half a God and I’d still be stuck in my addiction. The whole truth – and the truth of today’s passage – is that to know God is to be radically, continually, and forever changed. God may love us right where we are, but entering a relationship with him is profoundly dangerous to our old way of life. If we truly follow him, we’ll never be the same.
Today’s passage said that this is what offends so many about Christ. In the passage, Jesus was called the living cornerstone upon which the kingdom of God is built. But, the passage said, Jesus is also the stone over which many stumble and are offended because they don’t want or need to be transformed. I don’t need to change and I don’t need Jesus. I’m fine just the way I am.
Jesus can be offensive to both Christians and nonbelievers. Many of us, even though we profess faith, don’t really want to grow or change. The life of a disciple, as described by Jesus however, is one of continually dying to self so that we may follow him. As he died on the cross, so too must our old life die. The normal Christian life is to be continually transformed, daily becoming better than we were yesterday. If we ever find ourselves in a position where we think we’re just fine and that God agrees with everything about us, we’re probably about as far away from the real Christ as we can possibly be.
Jesus is dangerous. To know him is to accept the idea that the old life must continually die. If we’re happy with our lives exactly the way they are, then Christ isn’t for us. If though, we recognize our desperate need for change, then he’s exactly what we need.