The other day I (David) really offended someone. I said something that appalled them and they let me have it.
We all like to think we’re grace-giving people.
Then someone crosses an undeveloped part of our ego and, instantly, we’re personally insulted.
We get offended by the way someone dresses, or by the way they think that’s different than what we know -for a fact- to be true.
We feel insulted if someone crosses into our lane on the highway or they cross an imaginary line in some area of our ideology or theology.
We even find ways to get offended
for other people who’ve been wronged.
In this case, I was speaking to a group about a biblical character and I did what I’ve done many times over the years, I shortened his name.
I do this to take away some of the ‘Sunday School’ familiarity, to more humanize the person. This time I called Abraham- “Abe.” And the next day I got this email from an outraged person dressing me down for altering scripture.
They said I violated sacred text and along with a long litany of things said I should repent and humble myself.
I’m sorry if my saying “Abe” also offends you as you read this. I truly meant no offense. And I picked up the phone and said so to the incensed party. But they rejected my apology. For them, it is blasphemy to alter one iota of the word of God. It says so in Revelation. This person told me I had offended God, possibly forever!
Now I’m the first to say I can always find something to improve about my teaching and I’ll be careful next time I think about “taking liberties” with the text.
But the greater lesson for me was a warning about not taking personal offense for God, for the scripture or for myself should anyone cross a line I’ve deemed uncrossable.
I was reminded of the ways my ego can get inflamed over arbitrary issues God himself would laugh at and totally miss the things that truly break God’s heart.
I want to be careful about what I attach my “righteous anger” to. Much, much more often than not, grace applies to a situation, not wrath.
When we look at Jesus we see someone unflappable
in the face of every kind of trespass.
He was known by all for his compassion, not his correction. As his followers, we hope to imitate him most in this and grow a little more un-offendable every day.
One sign of a healthy soul is how un-offendable you are.
(*If you want to go further with this subject you might take a look at the book, Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. We think this would be great for a book discussion group and it might even promote greater unity.)