The Lord Jesus Christ Offended the Pharisees — And He Still Does so Today
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:12-14)
We will be writing more on this passage in the near future, but here are some highlights for this Sunday morning, meant to encourage us all.
When we address abuse in the church, when we come to the aid of its victims, we are going to offend many people. “Offend” is putting it lightly. More like “make enemies of them.” We don’t really make them our enemies. We simply expose the fact that they are enemies of the weak and the oppressed. Jesus said: Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) So you don’t have to be overtly and actively abusing people to be an ally of the abuser. You simply need to be a bystander, a watcher of evil, to be against Christ in this matter.
Now here is the point for this morning. We hear at ACFJ, along with most all of our readership, regularly tick people off. And with some frequency we have people write to us and say something much like the disciples said to Jesus – “Uh, you do realize, don’t you, that you offended ___________ with your article?” Many of you have had the same thing happen when you confronted your abuser or went to your church to ask for help. “Whoa! Slow down! You are going to upset people here. You will alienate your spouse. You need to go home and take a chill pill.”
When I was writing the book, A Cry for Justice, I had several friends read the manuscript before it was published and they gave many very good suggestions. Not ONE of them ever told me to “cool it.” One did tell me this: “This book is very good. You realize it is probably going to make some people really mad.” Only he didn’t tell me to back off. He said “press on and let them get mad.” He was right, and we did.
“Do you know that the Pharisees were offended…?” Yep. We know it. Many of the ring leaders of this sect today are simply plants — plants who have not been planted in their ecclesiastical positions by the Father. The truth will work to root them up and they fight against it. All who persist in following them will go down into a pit with them. God’s truth rocks our world. It shows us our errors and sins and calls upon us all to make some mid-course corrections.
We are calling upon Christians, pastors, elders, denominations, theologians and seminaries and authors and leaders of Christian organizations, to make some pretty radical mid-course corrections. Because when it comes to abuse in the church, here is the reality. Most of these people and organizations have been on a wrong course, headed for the rocks, for a long while.
But human beings do not like to be told that they have been wrong all their lives. At ACFJ, we even name names. We say “Don’t get on Captain John Piper’s ship. He is headed for the rocks and he will take you with him as he steers a course of no-divorce-for-abuse-or-anything-ever.” We have had people tell us “Oh, tone it down. You are going to offend his many followers.” They want us to be more like “there is a certain ship sailing from a town starting with the letter Q that is going to a city starting with the letter N, but it isn’t going to make it because….well, because something bad is going to happen. Don’t get on that ship. Whatever you do, don’t get on it.”
And of course the whole point is that such people think that what we must do is always, always, always strive to make people our allies, to win them over to our cause, to… well, to bring the abuser to repentance and salvation by trying and trying and doing and doing and praying and praying… and most of all, by never offending. We’ve all heard that line before. It doesn’t work. Jesus said that men and women, churches and church leaders, seminaries and professors, Christian denominations, planted and directed by the Father will hear His Word. Those whom He has not planted won’t. They are weeds in His garden producing bad fruit. Yes, we know they are offended by what we say. Leave them alone. They are blind guides headed for the pit. Don’t go with them.
If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:7-8)