Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bishop’s Note: September 08, 2016 - An Offensive Gospel

Bishop Eric Menees

The other day I was speaking with Fr. Mike Law who spoke about how offensive Jesus could be.  When he said this my brow furrowed and I thought – NO!  He can be harsh and his words can be difficult, but offensive?

Then we read from the 14th Chapter of Luke last Sunday, and I had to agree – sometimes the words of Jesus are offensive! “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25)
Jesus meant to cause offense, in fact. In the 21st century, it is impossible to truly understand how offensive this statement was. Family was everything in the first century – your source of identity; your source of social standing; your source of security. Could Jesus really have meant to cause offense? Yes. Jesus meant to cause offense; he meant to cause us to think; and he meant to cause us to act.

Now, I don’t believe Jesus was being literal in this statement. He was using hyperbole, because Jesus would never ask anyone to go against the Word of God: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

What was the point of Jesus’ offensive statement? To make the point that being a disciple of Jesus  is to come before everything – including one's family and one's own life!

Twenty-five years ago, when Florence and I were well into our engagement and going through our pre-marital counseling, the counselor asked us to list what was most important in our lives. I said, “Jesus, Florence, Family, and Church.”  Florence agreed. But about five years ago she admitted to me – twenty years into our marriage – that she was offended by my list. She had wanted to be first! That was, until she attended a Cursillo (Anglican 4th Day) retreat. On that weekend Florence realized that from her childhood on she’d given 85% of her life to Christ, but withheld that last 15% out of fear – out of pride.

When she came home from that retreat, it was obvious to me that something had changed – that Jesus really was first for her.

This was significant for Florence and for our family, because when we put Jesus first in our lives – when our discipleship isn’t simply a theoretical concept, but is a reality – we become better husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

Jesus’ point wasn’t to abandon these relationships, but to put them into perspective – with Jesus first! My prayer for you and for me is that we may truly live into the offensive teaching of Jesus – placing him first!

I pray you all a blessed week!

Catechism Questions: 331-333

331. What is the Tenth Commandment?
The Tenth Commandment is: “You shall not covet.”

332. What does it mean not to covet?
I am not to let envy make me want what others have, but in humility should be content with what I have. (Micah 2:1-2; Hebrews 13:5-6; Philippians 4:10-13)

333. How did Jesus practice contentment?
In contentment, Jesus took on the form of a servant without wealth or possessions, and in his earthly life loved and trusted his Father in all things. (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 2:3-11

1 comment:

Dale Matson said...

causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry.
"the allegations made are deeply offensive to us"
synonyms: insulting, insolent, derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful, wounding, abusive.

I would be inclined to see Jesus using hyperbole to confront those who are only 85% with Him. This was spoken to His prospective followers. It is another way of saying "Count the cost".