More than ever, it seems that no matter what we say, it’s just not the right thing. Somehow, someway, someone gets their feelings hurt at every turn.
I cannot recall a time when people have been so easily upset or offended. Evidently, we are all living in a world where only emotions matter. In other words, forget the facts, and focus on the feelings.
On social media and even in daily life, I constantly encounter people who are offended at every turn. Facebook, for example, has become the go-to platform for an endless tirade of emotional rants. But it’s impossible to scroll down any social media site without reading about horrendous, perceived offenses.
Some people are highly offended because others said the wrong thing. Loudly and without reserve, these offended folks instruct the insensitive offenders via their FB posts to refrain from speaking about an issue without firsthand knowledge or experience. How rude and offensive to voice a mere opinion!
OK, no problem. Point made; point taken. Note to self: Just don’t speak. That sounds like a simple enough solution to prevent hurt feelings and keep from offending others, right?
Intentional silence doesn’t work either because other people are offended by the apparent lack of speech. And the newly offended individuals claim that silence in certain circumstances is wrong, even cowardly, regardless of situational experiences. In essence, not voicing an opinion is offensive.
Wait, let’s get this straight: Don’t speak, but don’t remain silent. Otherwise, someone is bound to get offended.
Well, guess what? I’m offended too.
I’m offended that people are so easily offended. And who’s to say whose offense is more important than the next, theirs or mine?
Admittedly, my offense at other people’s constant state of being offended should have as much importance and weight as anyone else’s offense. If not, their lack of offense at my perceived offense is offensive to everyone else who is similarly offended.
In other words, it is offensive that people are not equally offended by the issues that offend me.
For example, I am highly offended that chocolate has more calories than lettuce. Doesn’t that offend you as well? It should!
After all, iceberg lettuce has less nutritional value than a Hershey’s chocolate bar, and it certainly tastes worse. At least chocolate contains milk and cocoa beans. Lettuce tastes absolutely offensive to me.
So, yes, I am rightfully offended over the unfair caloric content of chocolate. And to be honest, this issue has offended me ever since I was old enough to read the label on the back of a Hershey’s bar.
Therefore, I implore chocolate manufacturers around the globe: Please redo the label, and make the calorie count more closely reflect my dietary desires. Just tell me that chocolate has only five calories per ounce. No, make it two calories per ounce.
That would be the kindest and most caring thing chocolate makers worldwide could do for us fat girls. What a humane and ethical decision! Plus, it would help me rest easy while eating my Hershey’s bar instead of a salad every day at lunch.
OK, we all know that my little chocolate tirade is ridiculous. And in light of the trying times we are facing, it could even be construed as offensive.
But I simply wanted to remind myself and remind others that being offended is not always a bad thing.
For example, my cherished friends are often the same people who speak most truthfully to me. And their words of truth, though not always appreciated or accepted immediately, are often the impetus that propels me to change and grow – especially when they back their words with Scripture.
Actually, the Bible itself is often offensive.
But that should not come as a surprise, since Hebrews 4: 12 warns us,
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
So, yes, the Word of God will offend us and soothe us; cut us and mend us; break us and bind us; wound us and heal us; comfort us and convict us – all while reading the same passage.
Likewise, the truth of God’s Word is pleasant (and altogether unpleasant). Indeed, He alone has the words of life. Sometimes, His Word is a balm to my weary soul. At other times, it grips me and will not let me rest. But it is always pure, unadulterated, and totally offensive truth.
And lately, I’ve been contemplating one particularly offensive passage in John 14.
In this account from John, Jesus and His disciples ate their last supper together. It was right before Passover, and Judas left the meal to go and betray Jesus. And though Jesus knew exactly what awaited Him that very night, He spent a great deal of time ministering to the disciples. He even washed their feet.
Jesus also assured them that, though He was going away, He would prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. He even promised to come back and receive them into His Father’s home.
Thomas boldly spoke up and told Jesus that they didn’t know the way to the Father’s house. So, Jesus patiently explained that He is the way, and through knowing Him, they should already know the Father.
Phillip was obviously still clueless because he jumped in the conversation and asked Jesus to show them the Father.
Talk about offended.
If I were Jesus, that little scene would have put me over the edge. He had continually traveled with them for over three years. They had witnessed miracle upon miracle. How could they ask such a question? Did they not understand that Jesus was the Son of God?
In no uncertain terms, Jesus went on to reassure them that since they had seen Him, they had seen the Father. Furthermore, if they believed in Jesus, then they had also believed in the Father.
And then Jesus spoke some of the most offensive words I have yet to find in the Bible, in verse 12 of John 14:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Now, do not try and dismiss those words with some big, long dissertation. If God was big enough to create language, then He was and is big enough to know how we would interpret those words today. So, I don’t care if you’re a religious scholar or a language professor; the fact is that “greater things” means exactly what it says – greater things.
And that one phrase cuts me to the quick.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 50 years, and I’ve seen some amazing things in my walk with Christ. But I have never, ever witnessed something greater than what Jesus accomplished in His ministry on earth.
But I also know that His Word is true. And He is not a man that He could lie. So what Jesus said will come to pass. But, when? Where? How?
I want to see those greater things. I want to be a part of it! Don’t you?
Then the bigger question should be, “Why?” Why have we not seen or done greater things than Jesus? Have Christians failed to carry out His commission fully?
If so, that is a most offensive failure on our part.
And that brings me to one final point. Maybe we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). For in the very next verse, in John 14: 13, we read,
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
So, if things in this world seem dark and offensive, then, good! It’s high time we got offended enough to fall on our knees and pray. We need to be deeply offended because our world is in desperate need of a Savior.
And what is even more offensive is the fact that you and I know the Savior. Through His Spirit that lives within us, we know Him, and we know the Father in Him. Which means, that in Him, we live and move and have our being. We are His!
So, let’s begin to pray and ask God to help us carry out those greater things – before it’s too late.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed (1 Peter 2:6-8 KJV)