One reason preachers won’t discuss controversial subjects is the conviction that it offends people. And if offended, they won’t return to services. And if they don’t return, how can they be taught? Point of fact, then: when will we address issues that could offend people?
As always, Jesus serves as our model. If he had ignored tough issues, made no controversial claims or feared hurting people’s feelings, we wouldn’t have Matthew 13:4, 19; for who would want to hear that he allowed Satan to snatch God’s word from his life—just because he had no interest in God? Think of the many obituaries who would be offended. We wouldn’t have Matthew 16:24; for who wants to let Jesus, first thing and foremost, assassinate our ego in order to be his disciple? We wouldn’t have John 8:58-59; for when claiming to be God in the Flesh, the Jews, “picked up stones to stone him”...and he saved himself only by “slipping away from the temple grounds.”
We wouldn’t have John 5:24-27. For he claimed to personally be the VOICE of God calling all the dead alive on the Last Day. How offensive that was to Moses, and how much more offensive to every religious leader since? We wouldn’t have John 14:6; for in answer to Thomas’ request that Jesus reveal the way he would go, he replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Understand that his men understood that he used the Greek equivalent of Exodus 3:14—he IS the Jehovah God, the “I Am Who I Am!” Not content to make that revolutionary claim, he then added, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” How irritating to world religious leaders who claim THEY offer the way to whatever future life their adherents enjoy. Think of it: everyone ever to live must have Jesus Christ’s approval before he can enter God’s Presence. Even those who thought they determined who would be lost or saved. And on and on!
Now...expect Jesus to be fair in judging everyone who hasn’t heard of him. But do not expect Jesus to change what he said about being the sole Judge of all mankind and the SOLE PERSON to determine the eternal fate of every mortal ever to live.
Alexander Hamilton knew that paper money needed silver or gold backing it, supporting it, giving it stability—or it would be worthless. The spiritual life originated by the ONE GOD must necessarily have ONE ALL-Powerful, ALL-Authority figure in charge of it in history and judging all humanity by HIS standards at the end. And Jesus Christ is that ONE.
The darkest days of the American Revolution “tried men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote in his Crisis papers. Christians can truly say, “These are the days that try the courage of preachers.” Since Jesus preached what needed to be said, trusting the Holy Spirit to relate it to listeners, will preachers proclaim the gospel faithfully, trusting the same Spirit to relate it to listeners? End Part VII