The Antagonism of The Gospel

GLENN’S EASTER FEST (Australia) DEVO NOTESI’d like us to consider two questions this morning:Why does the Gospel SEEM antagonistic to so many listeners?Why is the Gospel often delivered in such an antagonistic way?I believe both are important questions worth pondering.I want us to consider two basic answers to these questions.First, Jesus says in John 14.6 that HE is The Way, The Truth and The Life, and He says that nobody comes into right relationship to God the Father except by and through Him, that is, Jesus Himself.In John 10.30 Jesus says He and God the Father are One.He told His disciples, “If you’ve seen Me you have seen the Father”. This is in part why the Jews wanted to kill Him. His claim to BE God in the flesh antagonized them and antagonizes many people today.Perhaps they want to be their own God, they love their particular sins, they are afraid to surrender to Jesus as Lord, they simply don’t want to be bothered by His life-changing love and/or truth.-Or they believe in and follow other false, so-called gods. So the Good News is bad news in their viewA fair number of people have grown up entrenched in a non-Christian worldview or value-system so the claims of Jesus (as well as actual sin among Christians throughout history)stirs a sense of competition and frankly, sometimes even understandable suspicionWe must remember Jesus spoke of two crosses: the one Jesus died on for our sins to be forgiven, for the love of God to be demonstrated AND there are the personal crosses Jesus insists all who follow Him must pick up DAILY.He says all who follow Him MUST deny self, pick up OUR cross daily and actually FOLLOW Him.Those personal crosses of self-denial are not only offensive to pre-believers or unbelievers but to the church in general. We would rather not deal with that. The reality of personal crosses at times even offends those of us who love Jesus and trust Him for our salvation.Then comes my second overall point: needless antagonism due to some of us at some times, with regard to the way we deliver the news.We have to face the offensiveness of individual believers and sometimes local churches in terms of our delivery of what is at core, Gospel truth.Job 6.14 (WEB)To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown from his friend; even to him who forsakes the fear of the Almighty.Ps. 23.6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness (mercy) will FOLLOW me all the days of my life…WE are sometimes antagonistic in our delivery for a number of reasons:-Personal angerThis may or may not be connected to one’s view of God, or rough times in a local church or difficulties we’ve experienced living in this world… perhaps inner stuff, sin issuesUnresolved anger and unforgiveness toward people and their actual or supposed sin against us, in a word, bitternessWe believe Jesus and want to share the Good News but our own baggage gets mixed up in our message for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”…-Fear of God’s displeasure of our potential failure at “making the sale”, lack of visible fruit or some measure of success for our efforts-Fear of not being personally accepted or respected by a particular group(Christian church or non-believers)-Fear of slipping into sin ones self… the evangelist trying to create distance between themselves and sinful practices-Immitating other harsh speakers thinking forceful delivery is The way to communicate-Determining to help the listeners stay away from false thinking, false teaching, false religion, false spirituality- we figure God is angry about this so we get to be angry too, and speak or write accordingly-Judging (rightly or wrongly) that an individual or group is generally apathetic, perhaps even arrogantly closing their ears to God, therefore taking a harder, Old Testament “prophetic” delivery as THE way to warn them of coming judgment of God, hell and such-Basic frustration at people not listening to us as we share God’s message-Prejudice, pure and simple: negative, harsh judgment of a person or people group of a different socio-economic, cultural, subcultural, ethnic or racial group other than that the communicator is comfortable with… perhaps even to the point of racismI know at least something about each of these issues because I have personally sinned and repented -and still do on occasion- with regard to at least some of them!-The evangelist’s own lack of faith that a person in whatever situation or subculture could ever repent, believe and truly become a genuine disciple of Jesus-An extreme sense of nationalism or patriotism to the extent one confuses the desires of self, tradition and country with the eternal Good News of JesusConsider the Book of Jonah, God’s relentless love for the people of Nineveh. Jonah finally delivered God’s salvation message but in the sad, tragic end Jonah himself was not willing to repent, change and focus on God’s gracious character and love for the people. He ended up slinking off and sulking, actually mad at God for His mercy towards the Ninevites, mad God used him to bring God’s message of mercy to a people Jonah clearly did not care for, neither at the beginning of God calling Him to preach to them nor at the end after he had finally done so and they’d repented!Consider “the Proverbs 31 woman” -and listen up men, we need to learn from her:Pro. 31.26 (NKJV)She opens her mouth with wisdom; and on her tongue is the law of kindness.Pro. 3.3 (WEB)Don’t let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.In summary, there is an actual antagonism about the Truth, the Good News of Jesus in that He indeed makes exclusive claims about Himself and Who the True God is.We must also pay close attention to the way we as Christians deliver that truth though we may well be sharing actual biblical Gospel.