I’m Offended – Well, That’s Your Choice
We are surrounded by a nation of snowflakes. We live in a culture pushing hard towards liberalism in all areas. This is a tough fight for Christians and political conservatives. Taking a look at some statistics, it’s easy to see why. In a recent study published by the Econ Journal Watch, the results showed that of all College and University Professors who are registered voters and responded to the poll, self-professed liberals outnumber both moderates and conservatives 12-1, and the trend is worsening. The Washington Times (a liberal news source itself) reported on this study and confirmed that out of five departments analyzed by the authors, history is by far the least conservative-friendly department, where liberals outnumber conservatives by a 33 1/2-to-1 ratio. In other words, our children are being taught revisionist history – with an agenda.
It is easy to see that liberalism is forcing its way into the Church as well. Every year more mainstream denominational churches are falling in with the LBGTQ community, accepting professed and active gay lifestyles as being consistent with and accepted in Christianity. Gay Pastors and Bishops are now being ordained by many denominations traditionally considered “Evangelical” – and yet they still call themselves evangelical bible teaching denominations.
That said, coming with this movement towards liberalism in the Christian Church in America, comes the forceful arguments of the left. Liberalism not only desires safe-spaces in colleges, they are demanding acceptance in church groups as well – to the point where technically speaking, some forms of evangelical Christianity and its teaching is considered Hate Speech in many States, and has a foot-hold Federally as well. The liberals say that our speech is “offensive” and “hurtful”. Everything we say that stands in opposition to their liberalism is a “micro-aggression” worthy of the same response as if physically assaulted. It seems that everything Christians or conservatives say offends them.
Sadly, Christians are falling prey to this problem as well. While especially young Christians being taught every subject matter with a liberal bend, are especially susceptible to this trend. Millennials and Gen-X’ers may be most likely to be offended by things that earlier generations were not, but why has this also infiltrated into Christianity? All to often, Christians take offense to opposing viewpoints, to conservative thoughts, and to hard lines taken defending conservative evangelical traditional Christianity. Why?
Addressing the social, secular side of things first, our growing number of offenses, and shrinking levels of tolerance (all in the name of more tolerance mind you…), can be generally attributed to the inundation of the liberal worldview in almost every area of our lives; school, college, the news, Hollywood actors and movies, books, legislation etc. Looking at the same effect on Christians and why they become so easily offended can be attributed to just one simple thing – Spiritual Immaturity.
Wow!, you say. That’s harsh, you say. I’ll offended, you say. Well, that’s your choice. And it’s also another sign of your spiritual immaturity.
There are many passages in scripture that leave some room for interpretation. There are doctrines, that while some Christians find them dogmatic, others do not – and yet those people can agree to disagree. Christ taught a great deal in parables and frequently used hyperbole to get a literal point across. If there is one doctrine however for which God’s Word leave do doubt as to its seriousness and interpretation, it is this: Living for Christ will not be easy.
God went so far out of his way on this topic that he famously told us that we should expect persecution. Perhaps the moist remembered verse is found in I Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Other popular verses come from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “blessed are the persecuted“. II Timothy 3:12 tells clearly we WILL be persecuted.
Persecution makes for hard life. This and lots more evidence exist to show us that living for Christ will require commitment and zeal. It will require effort and persistence. It will also require a great deal of being treated poorly, being made fun of, getting yelled at and laughed at. And yes, people will say tings that OFFEND YOU!
God has not promised you a trial free life. God has not promised you a fun-filled life. God HAS promised you a life filled with many contrary things, hard things, and things that you will find offensive. This is a given. What God has promised you is that if you abide in Him, trust in Him, that He will be there for you in all your trials, and that passing through these trials with Him will be a blessing, and provide spiritual growth. Avoiding these trials, or reacting to them in a manner contrary to God’s Word, or reacting to them “in the flesh” – will gain you nothing. So you see, spiritual growth id gained by facing these trial in the Spirit, and walking through them with God.
Before going further, let’s understand something. Being offended in and of itself is not a sin. Being offended easily, and allowing this offense to grow into anger or bitterness, and/or allowing this offense to produce fleshly outbursts and unchristian behavior IS a problem.
You see, God is an emotional God. He loves, He is jealous, He covets us, He hates evil and sin. He gets angry, has regrets, gets lonely, has loyalties, feels compassion, and is vindictive. In the incarnation of Jesus, he also is afraid and He weeps. Emotions are good, and they are from God – that’s how we know they are good. HAVING emotions is perfectly natural. Being offended is perfectly natural. It’s what WE DO WITH THEM that is the issue.
God hates, but He does not sin. God is jealous, but He does not sin. God is vindictive, but He does not sin. We have to learn to deal with, and control our emotions. In a discussion with my wife one day about something very personal in our marriage, she reminded me that self-control is a gift of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23). We would be wise, as I have, to put this fact to the forefront of our thinking, especially when it comes to reacting in secular social situations.
the Bible has a great deal to say about being offended as well.
God is not saying not to be offended if a real offense has been made. He is telling us to react in kindness (or not react at all), and to understand that you are not without sin in this area yourself.
These verses deal directly with an offense. But there are literally dozens of other verses that teach us skills, and give us advise on how to react, and what to do when we are feeling offended. Here’s a good resource for them. Read them all – and apply them to how you react to others.
Being offended is an emotion. Emotions are triggers, warning signals. They are advanced notices that we are feeling things that need to be dealt with. In the case of an offense, our emotion is stirred – and then we make a decision on how we are going to react. Feeling the motion is perfectly natural, BUT YOU DECIDE HOW YOU ARE GOING TO REACT, Being offended and reacting poorly is a choice you make.
This is my key point. We are not to blame the comments or behaviors or actions of others for the fact that we are so offended we sin. That’s OUR problem, and we need to deal with it in a Christian manner. Christians get offended by comments on social media that they do not understand or agree with, and unkind words are spoken and relationships are shattered. People have an offense to something that was said or an action that was taken in order to benefit or assist out of love – through a misunderstanding (and because Matthew 18 is not applied), suddenly you are no longer “friends” on Facebook, you avoid them in church, and long-term relationships are allowed to be destroyed because we are dealing with an offense emotionally rather than scriptural. This is on US Christian bothers and sisters, not on the person that caused to feel offended.
If such an offense has caused disunion in your life – it’s time to get that fixed.
As a new Christian, this can be hard. We do need time to grow and mature in our new-found faith. Give yourself some time to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. At the same time, take heed of other Christians as they try to help you grow in this area. They’re not trying to point out your faults, their just trying to help you grow – they have been through this too, rely on them for assistance and prayer. On the other hand, for seasoned veteran Christians, we need to put on our ‘spiritually mature big-boy pants’, and learn how to react to them rightly, and in a Christian manner.
Being offended is a choice. Noting more. Make the right one.