church of the offended

This week I had a phone conversation which went along the lines

“I am sorry I ……”

“Didn’t even register, oh but I’m sorry ……”

“No problem, whatever, I was in two ….”

“well now we’ve got that out of the way …..”

As this is a regular thing I was tempted to say “As you don’t take offence easily and neither do I will we agree to only mention situations when we are offended” 

Why do we take offence? What is it in us that thinks we should be allowed to be offended?

I have a friend, a dear sister in Christ, a self described gatherer, bringing people to know Jesus, a total evangelist, a brilliantly quirky wonderful human being. Her speciality is bringing people from the “Church of the Offended” (her phrase that I love) into mainstream church. People are offended by people. 

 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortifiedcity; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. Prov18:19NIV

  A brother who has been hurt in his spirit is harder to be won than a strong city, and arguing is like the iron gates of a king’s house. Proverbs 18:19 (NLV)So all these people who used to attend church or engage in fellowship are adrift without that unity and commonality. Some people love to be offended, it gives them something to talk about, regurgitate ad nauseum, giving them something to in self to focus on. I have spent a lifetime apologising for when I think I have caused offence. One of my poems “Motormouth” is about such an occasion, though often as in the opening conversation no offence was taken. My favourite one from this year was “You really hurt me.””Really, when? how?””I don’t remember, but I was hurt”Nowt like being specific. It was in this conversation I realised we have a goal of not offending but we are going to offend because we don’t know what is going on in another person’s heart or mind. So how do we dovetail that with:

32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—  1 Cor 10:32 (NIV)

 31-33So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.         1 Corinthians 10:32 (MSG)

So we are called not to give offence to either those in the church, those outside the church or to the church itself. BUT we are to live giving glory to God. I love the way the Message puts it because it talks about freedom and people who aren’t as free. And I feel so free, a new kind of free, a free that comes only from Christ. We are also charges with not taking offence and there’s a whole bunch of scripture both OT and NT to back this up. Remember Jesus, He didn’t get offended when His neighbours tried to push Him off a cliff, when Peter denied Him, when Judas betrayed Him, when the soldiers drew lots on His clothes, when the disciples didn’t recognise Him, when the world we live in doesn’t get the incredible, wonderful thing He did when He came not only to live with us, as one of us, but He died for us, He was tortured for us and a lot more BUT He didn’t get offended. He didn’t get offended that the human race killed Him and yet we get offended because (random thought) someone sits in our seat! 

Dr Dale A Robins on says: Don’t leave a church because your feelings got hurt. — Hurt feelings are a “violation of self interests” and are usually a result of being too self-sensitive. In any church or gathering of people there may be many offensive things said or done, mostly unintended, but you don’t have to let yourself become offended. Those who are easily offended may simply be immature, too self-centered, or may retain self-sensitivities due to past, festering wounds. Hurt feelings are probably the greatest reason why people leave churches, but deepening your roots in Christ and His word can immunize you against such tenderness. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV).So how do we not get offended:By simply repeating  “It’s not about me!”The reason we join a church, or fellowship gathering, is not for us. Our one simple purpose of being in church is to worship the Lord and give Him glory. We get so much more from being in church than without church BUT “It’s not about you or me” and once we learn to cling to that we don’t get offended.Just to be sure I am not seen as abnormal – here’s a list of the things that offended me this year:

  1. the post office worker that needed photo id when four other employees told her who Ross was – like he has a driving license (Ross is blind)
  2. the person who used the “N” word on my land – what in us did they see that would make them think my children had that in their vocabulary, pleased with their response – said nothing with the person still there but each came to me quietly and talked about it.
  3. the shop assistant in S—- J— who thought I couldn’t afford their clothes – see Pretty Woman – bags

Not a long list, and all have gone, no harbouring here, I want a heart free from bitterness, a softened heart with my God living in it filled with compassion for all.

And just to be sure, if you recognise yourself in here, I apologise – I do not mean to cause offence! I really, really don’t!