At some point, an authentic faith will become offensive. That sentence itself will actually offend people. Some in the Church have formed their faith into a voiceless idol crafted by a slavish need of acceptance. As a result, they will miss the intended significance of their witness.
Offense is never our goal. It is not something we aspire toward or become proud of when it takes place like a badge of validation. It is simply the result of truth being expressed in a world filled with lies and delusion. A message without offense at some point will become a message of compromise. In the quest to have our message be palatable to all, we can forget the challenging words of Paul.
“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (II Corinthians 2: 15-16).
Leading up to these verses, Paul said the Church is a processional of captives led by Christ’s in His triumphal procession of victory. Our presence in that processional emits the fragrance of a sweet perfume to those who believe but a stench of offense to those who oppose God and His Kingdom.
Be careful to not mask the fragrance of God’s truth and love in the public square as a way to gain acceptance. Like a cheap version of drugstore cologne, these attempts to never offend will become an even more offensive spiritual odor because of the mixture they produce. This mixed scent strips away our witness and confuses those who stand in the wings watching the processional of Christ.
Today, speak the truth in love to all the people and institutions you encounter. There is no such thing as a silent witness. Jesus did not have a silent witness. The Early Church did not have a silent witness. And every major move of God’s Spirit upon the Earth was heard, seen and demonstrated.
The testimony of our faith must contain all three elements – sound, truth, and love. These three working in concert emit the fragrance of God’s Kingdom. Without any single element, it becomes an incomplete testimony. If we attempt to model a form of love without making the sounds of truth, we will emit spiritual odors our presence was never intended to release.
Keep your faith pure, simple and unrestrained by social restriction and personal fear. Somewhere along the processional path, those who were once offended by the fragrance of your faith will inhale the perfume of Jesus Christ and that fragrance will draw them to join you in the processional march.
The next few months are a time of major transition in the United States. For this to become a time of transformation and reformation it will require a Church that is visible, verbal and fragrant. Choose to be that fragrance.