A comment caught my eye and at 2 am it wouldn’t let me go. “I’d rather offend you than God”. Perhaps that’s the root of my distaste for the conversation.
We forget that God is likely offended that 70% of our prison population comes from the foster system, a social cause for concern (thanks, Angela, for that stat – it kept me up from 1-2am). I’m prone to believe that God takes offense at the fact that our society, our country, spends more money on purchasing trash bags, a means to throw away our excess, than it would take to rectify the clean water shortage for most of the world. I think that’s a bit offensive to the Father of those thirsty people. And honestly, long blog posts about “what offends God” probably ranks high on the list of offenses.
Somehow, we religious Christian people have made ourselves God’s defenders. We carry His sword and shield into battle, protecting him from the evils of the world, whatever we deem and interpret them to be. That is, until we reacquaint ourselves with the passages of Scripture to remind us of how the relationship really works. God tells us numerous times that He will “go before” us and clear the way. He is the protector, the provider. He marches us into battle. He is our shield and sword.
Perhaps we need to revisit our role in the relationship. Perhaps we need to be reminded of our inability to understand God and recognize God and know God – and Maundy Thursday serves the perfect time for such reflection.
We only need to look at the life of Jesus to know what God finds offensive. It wasn’t the riff-raff of society. Jesus ate with slimeballs and women of “poor moral character.” And by “ate with” I mean associated with in the way of friendship. With such an audience, you can’t tell me there wasn’t at least a few dirty jokes cracked or that the conversation remained G-rated as someone poured the third bottle of wine. I’m not sure he took offense.
Jesus hugged the riffraff of society. He doted on women and children – those commonly deemed as property. He touched the sick, he looked into the eyes of the disturbed. When those at the end of their ropes grabbed on to his clothes and wouldn’t let go, we don’t hear cries of offense. We see love and compassion.
And then the religious folk show up. I’m not sure there’s a better way to foreshadow a sermon or a teaching by Jesus than to have a Pharisee arrive. Jesus gets ticked off more often by those who study the scrolls and those who spent day-in and day-out with him, than by any character of poor moral development.
It wasn’t the “immoral” or the folks on the outside of faith who need to take responsibility for the events of the Cross. It’s the religious. The sin of immorality didn’t send God to the grave – the sin of pride and idolatry did. Jesus was marched away by Roman soldiers because when God showed up on earth, we were too busy comparing notes on Leviticus to understand Who stood right in front of us.
The religious had no idea who they were talking to. And because God Himself didn’t line up with what they believed about God, we had to shut him down*.
The fact remains: the more scripture you can recite, the more likely you would be found in Pilate’s yard, shouting “crucify him!”
We traded a known murderer for the life of God Himself because He didn’t match up with the picture we had drawn. And we took offense.
It’s a dark day for us religious folk. It’s a time we must deal with the consequence of trying to know God outside of what God has made known. It’s a day we deal with our pride, our arrogance, our faith in our own self-sufficiency over faith in the character of God, known through the action of God.
Today is not a day to defend God’s law or image. It’s a day to remember that He took the place of defending ours. Even when we were wrong. Even when we screwed it all up. Even when we were so arrogent to think that we knew the answers. Even when we were too busy defending “God’s honor” to sit and talk with God Himself. Even when we asked for execution orders and watched Him suffer.
And yet, God still forgave our offenses.
Not [just] theirs. Ours.
*And we have a long, dirty history of knowing how to use politics to do so.
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