Monday, March 23, 2015

generating controversy

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Luke 4:14-15

Jesus began His ministry as a teaching rabbi. He became something of a celebrity, preaching first in His home province of Galille where He traveled from town to town, teaching in the synagogues and being wildly accepted by all who heard Him teach. We can only speculate as to the content of this very early ministry, but Luke does record one "service" in Jesus' home town of Nazareth at the end of Luke Four. In this encounter Jesus proclaims Himself to be Isaiah's prophesied Messiah. Only this time, the home town crowd is volatile and violent, ushering Him outside the city in force in order to execute Him for blasphemy by tossing Him off the edge of a cliff. But His time had not come. Jesus calmly walked away through the midst of the angry mob. He was controversial from the very start.

I have an operating principle for Christian teaching... the truth generates controversy. It requires a response. Jesus gets a strong reaction both favorable or against. He is never just mildly received. He never received a casual handshake and head nodded "Nice sermon" as people exited the building. When a group of His followers are not moved by Him or the teaching of His gospel, something has to be wrong. That is my observation from the gospels. It is the story of the early church in the New Testament. And it is why in the book of Revelation Jesus warns His church that He would rather have His church be either hot or cold. Lukewarm Christians make Him nauseaus! 

Controversial Teacher and Lord,
Keep the scandal of the gospel burning in me. Keep me scorching in the scandal of Your cross. Never let me sink to the coolness of the status quo, content to just "be" a Christian going through the motions. I'm not one who needs to lay still and soak it in comfortable climates, though it is my temptation. I never want to create casual Christian comfort in Your assembled saints. I want to see Jesus glorified, even if it means the gospel sparks reaction against You.

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