Offended or unoffendable?
Jeff Beacham is an expatriate Kiwi Evangelist who lives in New Jersey, and
ministers internationally through Firepower Ministries International.
As an Australian I have always admired America's culture of
affirmation. At their best Aussies are honest; at their worst; brash and rude,
but you always know where you stand with them. From a young age Americans are
taught to try to be kind and polite to everyone. At its best, this demands a
certain amount of self-control; at it's worst, it can be hard to know what
people are really thinking. But have our efforts to continually affirm each
other heightened our sensitivity and made us easily offended when confronted
with the truth, or are we already over-sensitive and have compensated with
complicated protocols in an effort to keep everybody happy. Either way, it has
ultimately given rise to the "doctrine" of political correctness, with
its twisted excesses, that could only have arisen out of an affirmation culture.
"...DOES THIS OFFEND YOU?"
When Jesus, speaking in spiritual terms, confronted His
followers with the truth of His mission, which they took too literally, they
"grumbled". He asked them ".Does this offend you?" (John6:61).
Grumbling indicates offence in the heart. The word "offence"
comes from the Greek word, "scandalon: a trap stick (bent sapling)...
stumbling block." In a recent article ("Are You Offended?"), Jay
Ferris said; "Surely it does not go too far to say that the [level of
offence] of the church in our day is a scandal, to borrow a Greek word. The
degree of the division in the church is the degree of the [level of offence] in
the hearts of the saints." The western church
may be in danger of being labelled the "offended church"!
Being offended can cause negative thoughts and destructive
reactions. But one aspect of spiritual maturity is an increasing sensitivity
to thoughts, words and deeds, while at the same time becoming less outwardly
reactive to them (editors highlight). A spiritual person is
redemptive, not alienated. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says; 'For the weapons of our
warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God... and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ.' God has equipped us to deal with the
battle against negative thoughts and we have a responsibility to use these
weapons to guard against being offended, and Faith is chief among them! "As
a man thinks, so he is", therefore Faith determines the contents of our
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells us how to deal with offences.
Peter wants to know just how many times he should forgive his
"brother". Jesus replies; "...seventy times seven!" This can
only mean that we need to be continually demonstrating that major cornerstone of
Christianity; FORGIVENESS! If we do then we will be unoffendable! Why should we
not be offended? Because Jesus was offended for us ('the offence of the cross')!
From that cross, He forgave those who crucified Him. There was never more
justification for anyone to be offended. Or, in the words of Jeremiah, 'Is it
nothing to you, all you that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
like my sorrow, which is done to me, whereby the Lord has afflicted me in the
day of His fierce anger.' (Lamentations 1:12). Yet He never complained about His
"fate", never tried to justify or defend Himself, never judged or
condemned anyone, never demanded revenge or justice, and of course, the enemy
never thought he had a chance!
AN UNOFFENDABLE CHURCH
The problem is that when we hang on to offences, it makes
"a place for the devil". Offences retained fester, rot and smell like
death. If we hold on to them a long time, we even get used to the smell, but
others notice right away, especially the Devil and his crowd. They will hang
around like vultures hovering over a dead carcass in the desert.
What is it in you that causes you to be offended, except
perhaps your sense of how things ought to be? Jesus had a sense of how things
should be, the question is; do our ideas match up with His? A mature church is
an unoffendable church. There is no place given to division and is
therefore a united church!
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