Do Not Be Surprised {Bernie Sanders & the offense of the Christian Gospel}

I am a Bible-believing, Christ-following Christian.  

This is offensive.  

I get that.  Because I read the Bible and seek the Savior there proclaimed,  I understand the objectionable nature of the beliefs I hold.  I have read every bold decree Jesus made.  I have weighed every line He drew.  I have pondered the methods He employed in His ministry and the methodology behind the salvation He has offered.  

And in my considerations, these things did not smoothly roll down the back of my throat as if I were enjoying some sweet, sugary nectar.  To the contrary, His word has often caught in my attempt to swallow it, causing me to gasp for air and choke for a bit.  The good news of the Gospel is a tough pill to swallow. 

Christians, we must understand the Gospel exactly for what it is.  

Shocking.  Uncompromising.  Absolute.  

So clearly so that I wonder how one could read His words and come to any other conclusion.  

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

For there is only one God and only one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

the way.  only one.  no other.

Shocking.  Uncompromising.  Absolute.  

The world recognizes the Gospel as such, and so must we.  

We must, because our Savior did.  And He did not want us to be surprised by the offense that would be taken.  

Last week, in a contentious confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders declared Russell Vought to be unfit for public office based on Vought’s adherence to one of the most basic doctrines of Christianity: faith in Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.

Given that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” Sanders’ vote against Vought because “this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about” is concerning.  

Concerning, yes.  But surprising?  No.  

As Christians we’re not surprised when we are treated as strangers, exiles, and aliens because His good word has prepared us for such.

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”  1 John 3:13

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  John 15:18

Bernie Sanders is not a Christian.  He doesn’t claim to be.  In no way should Christians be surprised that he is deeply offended by our beliefs.

But what should surprise us is the statement made by a professing Christian, Senator Chris Van Hollen (MD) in his agreement with Sanders.  Van Hollen said, “I’m a Christian, but part of being a Christian, in my view, is recognizing that there are lots of ways people can pursue their God.”

the way.  only one.  no other.

This statement by Mr. Van Hollen made me wonder what exactly we Christians are basing our beliefs upon.  A flimsy, paper doll Jesus who behaves as we ask Him to behave?  An imagined Christ who comes to us on our terms?  An impotent Savior who exists only to bolster our own conclusions?  

This version of Jesus does not exist.    

As Christians we must embrace the offense of the Gospel, and brace ourselves for other's reaction to it.

“My view” has nothing to do with the truth.  

“The way I see things” is actually quite inconsequential.

What “ I think/feel/understand” is more often than not a myopic, distorted view of things as they really are.  

Christian, it is irresponsible to uphold the name of Christ without seriously considering the claims of Christ.  Christ-following Christians cannot blithely gloss over the offensive nature of our Savior’s statements.  We must claim them as our own.  

This is the cross He has called us to bear.  And it is not easy, cheap, or comfortable.  It is alien, strange, foreign.  

It will make you squirm in your seat and look down uncomfortably at your hands.  It presses in hard on all those places that hurt the most.  

So Christian, if you have never been shocked, offended, or down-right dismayed at what Jesus asserts, then I entreat you to read His Word just a bit more closely. 

If we ever hope to reach a lost world for Christ, we must understand the offensive nature of the Gospel.  And then after we are offended by it, we must embrace it - understanding that when we reach for the lost, we will most certainly lose {favor, standing, friendships, family...}. 

And then you alone must resolve to answer the question that remains:  Is this stumbling block worth the fall I’m going to have to take to follow Him?

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