If you are among the small number of people who did not watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, then you missed seeing the Denver Broncos' defense absolutely stifle a prolific Carolina Panthers' offense. Holding this team to 10 points in the biggest game of the year was no small accomplishment.
Yet, for many of those who tuned in on Sunday night, Super Bowl 50 was a little boring. One presidential hopeful (God help us), tweeted as much.
So far the Super Bowl is very boring - not nearly as exciting as politics - MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2016
Like the Donald, the majority of fans want to see teams moving up and down the field, completing big passes and breaking off long runs. We want to see Cam Newton escape the defense and throw a lightning rod down the field for a touchdown. Yes, the Denver Broncos' performance in Super Bowl 50 lends credence to the mantra that "defense wins championships," but offense is what the people want. Offense is the engine that drives the NFL money-machine. Offense is what keeps the media from reporting that "Super Bowl 50 was boring." Frankly, more offense is what the Carolina Panthers needed.
Offense is what we must recover as Christians.
Offense is what we must recover as Christians.
By offense, I do not mean that we need to be more forthright with our evangelism. Certainly, we do need this; I need this. Much could be said on the topic. However, the offense I believe we need to recover as 21st century Christians is UH-fense, rather than AW-fense.
We've fallen victim to the criticism of our age: Christians are hateful and bigoted. Christians are hypocritical and judgmental. Christians are weak-minded and stupid. Christians are backwards and oppose progress. Christians are oppressive and intolerant. There is a laundry list of ugly traits that gets piled onto Christianity and the men and women who profess it. It is a daily struggle of feeling the need to defend Christianity against such accusations.
Rest assured that it is right to "contend for the faith."1 It is right because in our defense we possess the truth and we defend ourselves by bringing the truth to bear. We show that we are not hateful by loving our enemies as the Charleston church did when they suffered at the hands of an evil gunman. We show we are not bigoted by proclaiming that salvation through Christ is for anyone who repents and believes. We show we are not oppressive by rallying for justice in the sex-slave industry. We act in these ways in light of the gospel; the gospel propels us to live life to the benefit of our neighbor. We are quick, or at least more willing, to make these aspects visible in our lives and communities because no one is offended by this side of Christianity. We offer them up as a defense of our faith.
...the truth we possess is highly offensive.
However, we must never forget that the truth we possess is highly offensive.
We believe that there is a God who created the universe; the natural world has a supernatural origin. We believe that men and women are created in the image of God, but are born sinners. As a result, we believe that every last human being is equally deserving of God's wrath and punishment. Left to our own devices, humanity would devour itself. Yet, we believe that God by his common grace preserves us. We believe that there is absolutely nothing you or I or anyone could ever do to make amends with God apart from Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life"2 and the only means by which one can access the holy Creator God.
We believe Jesus of Nazareth was born of a teenage virgin in the first-century in a dirty stable surrounded by dirty animals in an utterly filthy environment. That this Jesus was not only a good man and wise teacher, but that he was a king. Yet, Jesus wasn't just any king, he was and is the one king of all of creation for all time and that "all authority in heaven and on earth" has been given to him.3
We believe that this very Jesus, a Jewish carpenter, was publicly humiliated by the Romans via crucifixion, was buried in a tomb, and resurrected three days later as he had prophesied and had been prophesied in the Jewish Tradition. We believe that this very Jesus Christ is returning one day to establish his kingdom and make "all things new."4
We believe all of these things to be the only truth in a culture that says, "truth is whatever you want it to be." Echoing 1 Corinthians 1:22-235, Christ crucified as the only means of salvation is foolishness to a culture that idealizes the individual's power to create himself or herself. The Jews sought power, the Greeks sought wisdom, and the Modern West seeks authentic self-expression. The cross of Christ casts its shadow over all three of these philosophies, much to the chagrin of their adherents.
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The cross of Christ demands that we die to ourselves and let God reshape our passions. It exposes our weaknesses; it lays bare our ineptitude. For these reasons, the Gospel always has been and always will be a message of offense. Yes, the life of love we lead as Christians does much in the way of defending our faith, but we must not lose the offense of the Gospel in order to make it more palatable. We must trust that the Kingdom of God fundamentally moves in an upside-down way. This is a message that is hard shared over dinner, but it is the message that we have been called and empowered to proclaim.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3) ↩
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) ↩
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18) ↩
And he who was seated on the throne said, "behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:5) ↩
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles... (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) ↩