Living in the home of Christian music, Christian publishing, and with a church on every corner, it’s easy to become very comfortable with the gospel. We take for granted that it’s true. In some ways we can become inoculated to it—we get just enough controlled exposure to the good news of God’s kingdom that we never really catch how amazing it is or stand in awe of God’s grace.
A Reasonable Gospel
But how can we forget that it’s not so easy for everyone to believe that a wandering, first-century carpenter-turned-rabbi (who was also the Son of God) taught revolutionary ideas and performed astounding miracles before dying on a Roman cross for the sins of humanity and rising from the dead after three days as King of the Universe and offering us eternal life with God? Does it really sound that reasonable at face value?
A Foolish Gospel
As I see it, there are two reasons why people think the message of the cross is foolishness. The first comes from people who think the story is foolish. Paul was constantly engaging people at this level. Most Jews thought the idea of Jesus as Messiah was foolish because they were expecting a victorious, political figure to free them from Roman oppression, not a sacrificial lamb to free them from sin and death. Many Gentiles likewise dismissed the story of Jesus because they neither saw anything honorable about dying a criminal’s death on a cross, nor did they believe in the resurrection of the body. Today, not much has changed. People still struggle to believe this story because it doesn’t fit into their worldview—the lens of culture and experience through which they view reality.
The second reason comes from people who think the lifestyle of Jesus is foolish. Unfortunately, Christians can implicitly believe this as often as non-Christians. The “message of the cross” is not just what Jesus did, it’s what he called us to as well. Paul is specifically addressing the Corinthian church for constantly fighting with one another and falling into immorality. They believe Jesus’ story but haven’t bought into his way of life. Similarly, I have been in ministry for nearly twenty years now and have believed wholeheartedly in the resurrection for at least thirty. I have no trouble believing the story. But when Jesus says things like “Take up your cross and follow me,” “Love your enemies,” “You cannot serve both God and money,” and “You who do not give up everything cannot be my disciples”—does my life show that I truly trust Jesus in these? Does secular culture or the Word of God ultimately shape my worldview?
Fools for the Gospel
This Easter, instead of calling the gospel foolish, let’s be fools for the gospel. If you know someone struggling to believe the story of Jesus, maybe you need to go have coffee with him or her and talk it out. Maybe find a way to intentionally and consistently show them love. Invite them to church (apparently the #1 reason people don’t go to church on Christmas and Easter is because no one invited them). And if, like me, you find yourself struggling to trust the way of Jesus completely, step out in faith. Take stock of your life and the things you may be holding back from him. Then, as foolish as it seems, hand them over. Let’s let Jesus offend our minds to win our hearts.