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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Do We Really Want to Go Around Offending People? A Conversation

Some people get offended rather easily. They’re offended by an array of simple things: flags, expressions, words, statues, signs, plants, postures, and even history. Some are offended because others are offended! I understand some of these. They're because of misuse and interpretations. But, that’s not exactly what this post is about.

I recently saw a T-shirt advertised on social media. Frankly, I thought it was in poor taste. Then, the person who posted it said she “would like to wear it and walk around offending people.” Okay, it’s her right to wear whatever she wants. She can put on any printed T-shirt, even if others don’t like it. She can express her ideas on her top or walk around carrying a sign, if she wishes. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. I don’t have to agree, and I can even be offended. She has the right to express her thoughts.

It made me think: as Christians, are we supposed to walk around offending people, on purpose? Are we supposed to in-your-face try to offend?

What does the Bible say?
  • LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour (Psalm 15:1-3).
  • Jesus said, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
  • If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Corinthians 6:3). It goes on to say that as Christians we rather suffer than being offensive.
  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted …. (Ephesians 4:32a).
  • Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1 Peter 3:8-11).

What is a Christian’s reaction supposed to be, if he feels offended?
  • Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:13).
  • … forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32b).
  • But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (1 Peter 3:14-17).
Our example is Jesus. He didn’t go around intentionally offending people. If they were offended, it was because He spoke the truth. It wasn’t because He was unkind. May we be Christ-like Christians and avoid causing intentional offences. Let’s be sensitive to others and kind. May we not let our differences of opinion make us offensive. We're supposed to point to Jesus, who said,

Let your light so shine before men, 
that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)


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