It is so fun to watch little children play. They are laughing and giggling and hugging and wrestling. Suddenly, you see one of them separate from the group. His little lip quivers and his eyes fill up with tears. You go over and ask what is wrong, and he tells you that his feelings got hurt. You encourage that little one to dry his tears and you walk him back over to his friends and help resolve the problem.
We expect little children to get offended. They are young. They are immature. They wear their feelings on their sleeves. The emotions are barely under the surface of their skin and they can go from giggling to sobs in two seconds! They are children. This is why they need wise, mature adults to not help them milk their offenses but to walk them to maturity.
I’m not sure if we have had a dearth in mature parenting that have caused this or a flood of adult babies that refused to listen to wisdom growing up, but this I do know – everyone is offended all the time! I do not care what side of the political fence you sit on, I do not care what church you attend, I do not care what race you are, I do not care what football team you root for, or where you buy your coffee. It seems like so many people are wearing glasses that see nothing but reasons to be offended. Is it so unreasonable to hope that maturity – just maturity – would allow others to see the good in others instead of taking a microscope over their lives looking for dirt?
I know Christians that get so upset over a style of music in the church, they don’t even see that the church is reaching the community for Christ! I know families that are so offended by their individual differences that they have completely failed to look at how much they have in common! I know politicians that love to eat each other up to make themselves look better , but forget that they work for the people and represent us – not themselves! I personally know so many precious stories about love between races and people groups and all we want to focus on are the negative stories of irresponsible people reaping what they have sown. Why? Why is that we sit in front of any source of news – whether that is a wagging tongue in church, a television news report, or social media outlet – with our tongues hanging out just waiting for the next juicy, negative, and opinionated sound bite? We love this stuff and it spreads like a wild-fire.
Opinions are a dime a dozen. We all have them. We all think we are right and we are disappointed at times when others do not see things our way. But, let’s remember – they are just opinions!
Just because you have a different opinion than I do, does not make you my enemy.
It proves you are not my clone!
When our world is so very small, and offensive things happen (as they will), it takes up all of our time and thoughts and we consume ourselves with the HUGE offense in our tiny world. But….if our world view is huge, and offenses happen (as they will), they are not that big of a deal in the scope of our huge view. If my offense is a tennis ball, and my world view is the size of a frisbee, then that ball is going to feel really big. But if my worldview is a swimming pool, and my offense is a tennis ball, it will barely make a splash! Do you see the difference? I firmly believe that those who are “most offended” about things have the smallest worldviews and live a life that is mostly all about them. There is no room for others in their small world. This speaks more of this kind of person than it does their offence. We should not allow ourselves to be snared into these tiny worlds.
Since I will always choose my opinion over yours, I cannot even trust my own opinions. Since I am a follower of Jesus, His opinion does matter to me. I wonder what His opinion is over us getting offended all the time? Did you know that the book of Matthew talks about being offended 8 times? I guess Jesus might have something to say and I think it is worth our time to listen to His opinion.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
These two passages are talking about the same group of people: the religious. Many offences come because we have shifted our focus onto a religious system and off of a person. We use our “religions” as a banner to wield our swords and cut everyone up. This is not to be. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are to speak the truth in love. We are to just uphold the words of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the work of a skilled surgeon in hearts that we cannot see.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Jesus does not want us to be offended. And He was also making sure to tell us that we are not to be offensive. I just need to be a vessel that lets the love and truths of Jesus shine through my life.
I want to end all of this with one more verse that is not in Matthew. It is in Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Nothing. Nothing. Should I say it one more time? I know I need to hear it many times – every time I get offended! If I am offended by anything, my problem is not the issue. My problem is me.
“I am SO offended!” I don’t think Jesus would say this. Therefore, I think it is time we stop saying it too.