A year ago, I brought six weeks of teaching to the Junction Church called ‘You can’t offend a dead man‘. It was perhaps the most significant series (to date) in the life of our church, with many saying how much it challenged them (me included!). I mentioned that one day I would write a book on the subject. Well, I’ve been burrowed away, quietly working on this for a while now. There’s a long way to go…but watch this space!
Offence is such a massive issue in our world. It’s a huge problem in the universal Church too. For example, how many Christians do you know who are living with offence in their hearts? Some people seem to take offence at the slightest thing, perhaps because they’ve felt overlooked or maybe it’s to do with jealousy, envy or insecurity? There are those who seem to actually WANT to be offended, as if the victim status affords them some kind of unique identity. This is a sad way to live and it in no way whatsoever reflects God’s best for us. The very opposite actually.
Of course, offence is real. But apart from the occasional exception, it tends to be mainly caused unintentionally. In other words, it’s not that most people go out of their way to offend others – it’s that they’ve probably been a bit insensitive in how they’ve gone about saying or doing something. As Christians, we all need to watch out for this and try our best to be gracious and considerate in our relationships. However, it’s also important to understand that there will ALWAYS be times when people let us down. We shouldn’t judge them too harshly for this. After all, we all have this innate ability, right?
Think about it, before you ever go ahead and accuse someone of offending you, how many people might actually accuse you of offending them? Do you then extend the same level of judgment toward yourself as you do to others? Or are you more lenient and forgiving to yourself for your own sins? Is the offence you have ever caused less important than the offence you have ever received? Does the fact that you ‘feel’ offended make it more justifiable in your judgment? Truth is, if we’re all totally honest, the offence we harbour can be extremely self-righteous and deeply hypocritical at times.
The point is, offence is an inescapable fact of life, whether intentional or not. But living with offence is a choice. Repeat…living with offence IS a choice. It means there is a part of us that needs to die. It indicates the existence of a thriving ego and an unforgiving heart which refuses to yield to Christ’s grace. What other explanation could there possibly be? There is NO excuse for a Christian to live offended. You can’t offend a dead man.
Here’s what Paul said in Romans 6:1-4 (esv) ‘How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his’.