11 May, 2014

Have you Offended Anyone Lately?

OK...I'm wondering and I have to ask "have you managed to  offend anyone so far this month? Which leads to the next statement and question: If you have not offended anyone, I have to ask, "Why not?" No, really... I mean it. And no, it's not that I'm trying to be a jerk here (although some might agree that I am one). I am asking these questions in all sincerity. The thing is, if you are speaking truth in a public arena, I promise you that you are going to offend some folks.  Bank on it. It's going to happen. This is true of anyone speaking truth in a public forum, but especially if you happen to be a Christian speaking the solid truth of God's Word in today's world, I can actually guarantee that you are going to tick some people off and cause them to be offended at you and your words.  No ifs ands or buts... you are going to make some folks mad.
Just this morning I received a very hateful private message on Facebook telling me that I was not a man of God, nor even really a Christian because I had offended the messenger's friend. They went on to say that no real Christian should ever cause someone to be offended.  My response was simply, "Oh really?"  So now, I will take time to publicly address this accusation and false assumption that was thrown at me. I would begin by asking, "how can a Christian NOT offend someone? If you stand up and make any Biblical stance or statement in this day and time, you will end up offending all sorts of people. Let me make it plain for you:
-If you say marriage should only be between a man and a woman, you will offend homosexuals and their supporters.
-If you say killing unborn babies is wrong, you will offend those who are pro-abortion.
-If you say harmful drugs should remain illicit, you will offend the pro-drug legalisation crowd.
-If you say that God exists, you will offend all sorts of angry atheists.
-If you say Jesus is the only way to God, you will offend all sorts of non-Christians – and even some wimpy Christians.
-If you say the Bible is God’s full written revelation to mankind, you will offend those from other religions or no religion.
-If you say there is such a thing as absolute truth, you will offend the relativists.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! The list could go on and on. The fact is, it is impossible not to offend some people if you take a stand for biblical truth and morality in this amoral society in which we live. What's more, this is really nothing new. It has always been the case... Whenever God’s people have stood up and proclaimed God’s truth,  people get offended. That's just the way it is... and it is only getting worse.
Read your Bible and you will see the same thing. We read over and over again how God’s spokesmen were hated, rejected and opposed by others. Why? Because they they took offence at the message being proclaimed.  We are warned of this in Jeremiah :10 where we read: , “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them, they find no pleasure in it.”   You see, the cold, simple truth is that to those who are not in a genuine relationship with God where they have submitted their will God's will, will ALWAYS find God's Word offensive. In fact, they will hate it and reject God's Word... as well as those who speak that Word! It has always been that way and it will continue to be that way.  Oh... before someone can say that my example is Old Testament, let me just say that there is simply no way that one can read the Gospels or any book of the New Testament and come up with any other opinion. People are going to be offended if you proclaim the truth of the Word of God and attempt to live it.  Speaking of not being a Christian because of causing offense... take a good look at Jesus himself!  Good grief... everywhere he went he got people angry! He offended people. He called the religious rulers "white washed tombs" and he spoke of not casting your pearls before swine (comparing people to pigs!).  But in today's weak, spineless version of the church, all of this offense is off limits and dismissed.  According to the modern "church" we must use extreme caution not offend anyone or do or say anything to put people off. We must just  put a big smile on our face, tell everyone they are blessed and OK just as they are and NEVER say anything which might be deemed offensive, intolerant, judgmental or controversial.
Listen... these guys do not have a clue. They obviously have never read what actually happened when Jesus walked the earth. Let me reference just one passage, but the truth is that there are dozens of others that could be mentioned.   In the Gospel of John 6:60-66 we read:
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “’Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Did you get that? Jesus offended people. He divided people. He caused many to turn away from him. And yet he was the most loving, gracious, meek and humble man to walk the planet. If such a person could not help but offend many, then how in the world do we think that we can avoid causing offence?
It is just the reality of things...  the gospel message is deeply offensive.  It is a simple fact that those who live for selfish desires (read sin) will be offended by the gospel. Folks... that's just the way it is! For example Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 that the gospel message gives offence. As he writes in v 23: “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block (or offence) to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”.  Why in the world should we be of the opinion that we are not to offend anyone when John wrote in 1 John 3:13:  “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Offended? Get real, John says they will HATE us! The truth of God's Word will cause people to hate that word... and the speaker of it.  How can it do otherwise? To vainly imagine we can live a genuine Christian life and yet never offend anyone or get anyone bent out of shape is absolute foolishness! It's a pipedream. It just ain’t gonna happen.
Now let me be clear so that there is no misunderstanding.  No way am I attempting to say that we as Believers should go around deliberately trying to tick people off or offend them.  We should not take pleasure in picking fights and getting people upset? The Westboro Baptist folks come to mind. I think these people actually offend God! God does not call anyone to be mean spirited, hateful and rude! We are to speak the truth IN LOVE. But bank on it, that truth is going to offend people!
Our mission is to earnestly contend for the gospel... but to do so without deliberately trying to provoke other and cause strife. We are to fight for the faith, without seeking to be seen as hateful trouble makers. We are each called to argue our case, without seeking to be argumentative. This is our goal. However we would do well to remember how the most graceful and loving man to ever live fared as he sought to proclaim truth. People hated him for it, and they eventually crucified him. What makes anyone think that if Jesus received such a response, that we are going to fare better than he did? Way back in 1923  J. Gresham Machen wrote, ”Few desires on the part of religious teachers have been more harmfully exaggerated than the desire to ‘avoid giving offense’” (Christianity and Liberalism).
The fact is that all of the great preachers have always known this. Here are a few quotes:
-“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” George Whitefield
-“A sermon often does a man most good when it makes him most angry. Those people who walk down the aisles and say, ‘I will never hear that man again,’ very often have an arrow rankling in their breast.” C.H. Spurgeon
-“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” Leonard Ravenhill
-“The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” A.W. Tozer

So... I rest my case... and I ask again, "Have you offended anyone lately?"

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