What does this statement really mean? When reworded, I think we can begin to understand it better.
“I have chosen to take offense to someone’s words or actions.”
This wording is more accurate. It helps me understand that I have a choice. To choose to be offended, I first have to judge the actions or words of someone.
Let me pause here and say that I have certainly been offended before. Sometimes for good reason (whatever that is). And sometimes for not so good reasons. And if I’m truthful, I think a better description of my emotion would have been called “hurt.” Generally speaking, I’m not an easy person to offend. Here’s why…
As I said before, to choose offense, I have to first judge the words or actions of someone else. By deeming their behavior offensive, I am letting them know that I don’t approve. If someone told me they didn’t approve of me in some area, I don’t think that would motivate me to change. I think it would make me stay away from them. If it were a group of people, I might actually feel isolated from that group.
Lets call that group “1st Community Church”. Lets say that the mission of 1st Community Church was to be a vessel of God’s love to the community. Ultimately, the idea is that people experience the unconditional love of God and enter into their own personal relationship with him. Thus, becoming a vessel of Gods love to others and so on and so on.
Now lets say that the members of 1st Community Church have lots of community outreaches where they help the members of their community with yard-work or whatever. Great community church. Right?
Now lets say that the individual members of the church are frequently offended by the lifestyles of those who haven’t yet conformed to the rules they govern themselves by. How does this demonstrate unconditional love? How does this model work to fulfill the mission of the church? Why would anyone who isn’t perfect, or at least who hasn’t perfected the art of looking perfect, want to be a part of 1st Community Church? More specifically, is this the model we expect them to duplicate?
This model is a recipe for an implosion of the church. This model is essentially waiting for people to mess up and be judged and ostracized. This model will destroy the church and its mission. This model laughs in the face of The Gospel of Grace.
Jesus hung out with those who were outcasts of the church. I wonder how he did this. Why would they let him hang out if he was always offended by (judging) everything they did and said. I think he loved them. I think he loved them regardless of their lifestyle… unconditionally. And I think that model of unconditional love was so attractive to people that they pursued God and became a model of unconditional love too… and so on and so on.
I speak from experience here. I was this person for many years. I had a standard that I expected people to live by. If they didn’t, I probably treated them differently than I treated all of the “perfect” people in my life. I wanted people to “act right” because I love people and I truly want everyone to improve. I had good motives. But my perspective was skewed. I think the key is to accept the fact that we are all on a journey. Mine looks differently than yours. Mine has different speed bumps than yours. But the fact is the only one I need to worry about is mine. And I need to love others while they are figuring out their own journey. I still want to help people have better lives. But it’s okay with me if they don’t. I choose not to be offended.