My husband and I had a really good conversation tonight. It’s Christmas time again, so time for the questions about where we can and cannot have Nativity Scenes again. I’m not really going to touch the subject.
But, Jeremy and I were talking about tonight about how important it is for everyone, and Christians in particular to understand culture and how it relates to religion and life. This semester has been an eye-opening adventure for me in respect to issues such as religion, race, class, and ability. There’s a lot that goes into it, and because I doubt my ability to clearly and adequately articulate it tonight, I’m not going to expound.
I would like to mention however, the topic that started our conversation in the first place. The offensiveness of the Gospel. In hearing people get upset and raise issue with Nativity Scenes at this time of year, or many other things that seem to aggravate people at other times during the year (take for instance the Tim Tebow phenomenon), we Christians should not get up in arms, we should not respond with harsh criticism or anger, we should not tell all of the people they’re wrong. Why? Because, the Gospel IS an offense. The Gospel does make people uncomfortable. It still makes me uncomfortable at times. The people are responding the only way they know how to without Jesus.
We’ve known that this is the case, we’ve read it in the Bible.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. –Mark 6:3-6
Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” –Romans 9:31-33
But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. –Galatians 5:11
For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “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.
–I Peter 2:6-8
So, just don’t forget. This is how it’s supposed to be. Not in God’s perfect, restored world, but in a world confronted by the truth of Jesus Christ. Rejoice in that, and pray for opportunities to share the offense.
And, on the topic if Nativity Scenes, isn’t this one beautiful?