When was the last time you were truly offended? I mean genuinely, absolutely, no-question-about-it, no-reason-in-the-world-for-it, offended? Was it last month, last week, last year or even just a few minutes ago?
Ever stop to consider the fact that you being offended has more to do with YOU than whoever you feel offended you?
Oops! Did I just offend you again? Sorry … not sorry.
Didn’t JESUS say we are to love our enemies? (Matthew 5:44).
Didn’t JESUS say we are to practice unlimited forgiveness? He told His disciples forgiving someone even seven times wasn’t enough. He said, “Seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22).
“But,” we protest, “you don’t know what this person did to me!”
Brant Hansen, in his excellent book, UNOFFENDABLE, says, “We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices. And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone – say, anyone who threatens us – into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’ teaching, there is no allowance for ‘Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah – you need to be offended.’” 1
Nope. He didn't say that.
“We’re flat out told to forgive, even – especially! – the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive. That’s the whole point: The thing that you think makes your anger ‘righteous’ is the very thing you are called to forgive. Grace isn’t for the deserving. Forgiving means surrendering your claim to resentment and letting go of anger. Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.” 2
Is it possible to live life without being offended? If you look around the world we’re living in, you might conclude it may not be impossible, but it sure seems improbable.
“We’ve kind of made up our own rules, baptized our beliefs and rationalized our reactions, cloaking them in clever cliches sprinkled with scriptures.”
Let me take it a step further.
How should the followers of JESUS respond to offenses or offenders? You might want to study up on that one, because I’m convinced most of us, if not all of us, aren’t really following the playbook on this one. We’ve kind of made up our own rules, baptized our beliefs and rationalized our reactions, cloaking them in clever clichés sprinkled with scriptures, and it makes us feel good, but we're still wrong.
Again, Brant asks a probing question …
“What does a properly religious leader do when seeing his so-called best friends for the first time after they disowned him and betrayed him in his hour of need?
A) Show them the error of their wicked ways by pronouncing harsh, deserved judgment upon them.
B) Give them a stern talking-to, but offer forgiveness if they prove themselves truly penitent.
C) Fry ’em up a hearty breakfast.
Jesus chose C.
And the breakfast didn’t even come with a good scolding or an ironic, ‘Hey, nice job, fellas. Appreciate the way you handled that with such class.’ He just wanted to be with them again.” 3
No offense shown or shared.
If that sounds revolutionary to you, even “other-worldly,” it is! And it ought to characterize every one of us who claim to be Christians.
Make the choice, and start changing the world around you!
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
[Get a copy of Brant Hansen’s book in our bookstore this Sunday.]
1 Hansen, Brant. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better. W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, 2015. Pg. 6
3 Hansen, Brant. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better. W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, 2015. Pg. 130.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.