The Christian gospel does not teach that whatever we are doing is fine.
It does not say that because God is love, God is mature enough to be OK with whatever we are doing.
The Christian gospel does not teach us to sing pretty love songs to a deity who keeps his hands out of our business.
It doesn't say, "Hey, just don't judge people or hurt them. Be a decent human being, and that will be good enough."
Opponents to the gospel hate us, because they understand something many modern Christians seem to have forgotten.
The Christian gospel is inherently offensive.
The Christian gospel makes a claim that is preposterous. It says that God has the right to determine what we do and what we don't do.
It makes the claim that his logic, his wisdom, and his authority are higher than our own.
The Christian gospel says that God can set up a system of eternal justice that requires something so primitive as faith.
It makes no excuses for this.
In fact, the Christian gospel claims to hide itself at times, to disguise its truth from those who are proud.
The Christian gospel says God has a right to pass judgment on what we do in our bedrooms, with our checkbooks, and with our very thoughts.
The Christian gospel teaches that God is not a passive, doting mother who overlooks and excuses her children's faults, but that there is hard, horrific punishment for our wrongs, and that people we love might experience that punishment.
The Christian gospel teaches that if we spend our earthly lives telling God to back off, that he will allow us to part from his company, and it teaches that our separation from his company is a nightmare we can hardly imagine on this earth.
To the haughty and high, the Christian gospel is laughable.
It is primitive.
It is unreasonable.
The Christian gospel will not reconcile with the ways of man, because it was not created by man.
It is so severe that it forces us to conclude extremes... either the gospel is lunacy retold by fools... or a terrible lie retold by charlatans...
or it is a truth that intersects with our limited dimensionality in such a way that we can only slide into it on our bellies and on our faces, in utter humility.
Nervous defenders of the faith are attempting to tidy up the gospel's messes, attempting to make our belief system more dignified and palatable.
But in the end, the offense of the gospel cannot be taken away, because Christ came to be a stumbling block, and many will stumble over him.
He also came to open a door.
You've seen the movies where a little child alone finds the way, where only one small enough or simple enough can discover what the mighty and the high could not. We have that in the Christian gospel.
I will not soften it for you. I will not try to make this easy. I will not flatter you. I will not try to make what is uncomfortable comfortable.
The Christian gospel is radical. It cannot be received in compromise. It is an exchange that costs everything.
God so loved the world, that he chose one way to save it.
He sent part of himself, a son he loved like his own heart, to receive the punishment that humans deserve.
By doing this, he made a low, low door. It is such a small door that it looks almost comic.
Surely this one tiny opening alone, in all of the light years of our universe, cannot be the answer. The cosmos is complex, and we are complex inside it. What of philosophy, ethics, science, history? What of the thousands of other gods that have risen and fallen through millions of other lives? If there is a God, would he finally speak to humanity through a tiny, backward, smudge of a tribe living on the dusty edges of civilization?
What right would God have to make such a crude and singular thread his bridge into salvation?
But the Christian gospel says God does have this right, and that this thin, odd path is the one he has invited us to walk. It offers salvation in two palms, and then it allows resistance.
The door swings freely, but you cannot enter it walking upright. You have to get down, down. You have to become a child.
And you can only pass through stripped down, all merits left behind, like an infant passing naked through a birth canal.
But for those who are humble enough to choose that passage, who are willing to ask for the forgiveness Jesus provides and to be filled by God and ruled by him, there is life beyond that door.
Either this gospel is insanity, or indecency, or truth, but the Christian gospel is not safe. The sort of love that changes a life rarely is.