Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You Offended?

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is offended these days?  It would seem that nothing can be said or done without someone being hurt or offended in some way, shape or form.  Well, it is not my intention to dig into the offense felt by those who do not know Christ.  My concern here is the offense being taken by professing Christians.  It appears to me that the culture of "I'm offended" has penetrated into the realm of Christianity.  In fact, this post may offend some Christian somewhere.

As a Christian, have you ever been offended?  I'm not talking about being offended by someone who takes God's name in vain, or offended by the content of TV shows and movies.  I am not talking about being offended by something that some singer has said or done.  I'm not talking about being offended by the latest anti-Christian slur slung by a liberal cable news anchor.  I am talking about being offended by a fellow believer.

Are you offended when another believer asks you if you've been praying and reading the Bible lately?  "Who does he think he is to ask me that?"  Have you ever been offended when a preacher went on a rant about something you love dearly - watching TV, going to the movies, listening to secular music, etc.?  Or maybe you have been offended by someone who didn't go out of there way to greet you at church last Sunday.  Maybe someone forgot to wish you a happy birthday.  Maybe it's been too long since someone has called to see how you were doing.  Maybe someone wasn't there for you when you needed a shoulder to cry on.

Why do we feel offended?  You may be offended by this, but isn't it because you feel like you deserved to be treated differently?  Maybe you have a point.  Perhaps you should have been treated better.  However, when we are offended, isn't it because our pride has been assaulted in some way?  One would be hard pressed to read Scripture and not realize that pride is not a good thing.  In fact, we should consider ourselves crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).  If we are "dead," can we still be offended?  The deceased feel no offense.

So, the next time you feel offended, what should you do?  First of all, don't take yourself so seriously.  You felt offended because you feel you deserved something better.  Realize that we deserve nothing from anyone.  Anything we have from God or others is all grace.  Show the same mercy and grace to those who have offended you, remembering that you have probably unknowingly offended many yourself.

Second, forgive that person before the Lord.  Living with bitterness will only destroy you and damage your relationship with that other person.  Life is too short, and no whatever they did is not worth that price.

Third, if the offensive act was serious, or sinful, take the counsel of Matthew 18 and go to that person and talk it out.  Yes, we would rather wallow in a pool of self-pity and resentment, but that is not what the Bible calls us to do.  Odds are, they have no idea that they hurt you.  If you go to them, your relationship may be stronger in the end.  A relationship with any brother or sister in Christ is worth fighting for.  Don't let bitterness destroy it.

I know the world is encouraging us to be offended.  Let's not follow their pattern.  Let's be people of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

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