“I’m offended!” We hear this phrase all over our nation. These are the days we are living in. This phrase has even crept into Christian circles: churches, colleges, and institutions. Anything is bound to offend someone these days. If you take a stand on an issue, you may ‘offend’ someone on the other side. Then again, if you take a stand on the other side of the same issue, you’re bound to yet ‘offend’ someone on the other side.
Let’s go to the Bible. The word “offense” comes from the Greek word skandalon, which is where we get the word scandal from. Rick Renner, author of Sparkling Gems from the Greek, says that “The word skandalon originally described the small piece of wood that was used to keep the door of an animal trap propped open. A piece of food was placed inside the trap to lure the animal inside. When the animal entered the trap and accidentally bumped the skandalon, or the small piece of wood, the skandalon collapsed, causing the trap door to slam shut and the animal to be caught inside with no way to escape.”
Renner continues. “However, the New Testament also uses the word skandalon to refer to a stone or an obstacle that caused one to trip, to stumble, to lose his footing, to waver, to falter, and to fall down. In First Peter 2:8, the word skandalon is used to describe how unbelievers react to the Gospel when they don’t want to hear it or believe it. Peter said, ‘And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word….’ Rather than accept the message and be saved, these people stumble when they hear the truth, tripping over the message that could set them free.” (Sparkling Gems from the Greek, 327)
Luke 17:1 paints a picture of what Jesus said. “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come…” Meaning, in this life, it is impossible that people will not get offended! An offense is a trap that the devil sets to lure people in. This is why people get ensnared with their own subjective biases on whatever is spoken that supposedly offends them.
If you tend to get offended easily at things, I recommend reading You Can Get Over It: How to Confront, Forgive, and Move On (2002), by Rick Renner. Needless to say, this book starts off with chapter 1, entitled: “Everyone Has Opportunities to Get Offended or Upset.” Chapter 2 is entitled as “Offense is a Trap.” Rick Renner notes that getting hurt or offended is actually a temptation, and that you have to make up your mind if you are going to be the conqueror, rather than the conquered. (p. 10) He continues, “And the truth is, most grievances are more imagined than real. Most offenses result from a misunderstanding or miscommunication that is blown way out of proportion rather than a direct attack from others.” (p. 11)
“Millions of Christians,” Renner says, “are held captive by bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness because they will not determine to do what is necessary to live free of offense. As a result, they have no joy, no peace, and no victory in their lives.” (p. 14) “As long as we live in this world, we’re going to have to deal with the potential of being offended. We can’t prevent offenses from happening, but we can avoid taking offense and getting bitter. Opportunities to get offended will always present themselves to each one of us.” (p. 19)
You see, bishops may be responsible for churches, but we are the bishops of our own hearts (Renner, pp. 34-35). This means that “we can’t blame someone else for what we allow to develop inside our own hearts; God will hold us accountable for it.”
Jesus says in Matthew 12:34 that “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” meaning – What is in a person will eventually come out of him. This says a lot! When people start to engage in becoming offended, they indulge themselves in a mindset of self-pity.
Rick Renner says very powerfully, “Remember, you can’t be offended without your own consent… You cannot be offended unless you take the offense to yourself. You always have a choice.” (p. 42)
We need to let go of the offense that has a grip on us by getting a grip on ourselves first!
Pulling the ‘I’m offended’ card is so common, that it is nearly inescapable to preachers who preach truth. I’m aware of several pastors who get hate emails from either a visitor or a member who was offended at their message, simply for standing up for the truth. Even hate messages written on doors of their churches. But guess what? Look at Revelation chs. 2-3. Notice the 7 churches of Asia listed. What Jesus Christ himself says about these churches is important. Look at what Christ commends them on. Look at what he said their flaws were. When you look at those 7 churches, notice how they each paint a picture of not only their local church setting in that city, but of a particular chapter/phase of church history between Christ and our present time. The following chart depicts this:
Read through a description of all the churches throughout the ages. Read Laodicea’s on the far right side. Read through that list. Notice how we are living under the Laodicea church age! This was the only church that Christ did not have anything positive to say about! What Jesus did say was that the church of Laodicea was lukewarm! Meaning, Christ would spew it out of his mouth!
What does lukewarm mean? Jesus says in Revelation 3:16 (NIV), “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Lukewarm in this passage is the Greek word chliaros, meaning, “the condition of a soul wretchedly fluctuating between a torpor and a fervor of love.” Think about this! We are now in the Church Age where Christians, even Christian pastors and ministers, fluctuate between torpor (lethargy) and a fervor of love! Christians need to have some backbone with the Truth and the Word of God, rather than apologizing for it.
Notice how there is not an 8th, 9th, or even 10th church category. There are only 7. We are currently in the 7th and final church age. What does 7 mean? It’s the biblical number for completion. Jesus Christ is coming back soon. His bride has been wearing rags for too long, compromising herself with the world, culture, and society, for the sake of “cultural relevance,” when she will soon slip off the rags and put a beautiful pure white dress on, reading for Christ’s return.
Jesus describes events leading up to His Second Coming. In Matthew 24:10, Jesus says that “many will take offense.” So now we have a setting. This describes the day and age we are living in and what will happen in this age. In Matthew 15:12, it says, “Then the disciples came up and told Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this statement?'”
Paul says in Galatians 5:11 that the cross itself is offensive! A preacher wisely said, “You know, the Gospel should offend the natural man, but never the spirit-man.”
Meaning, the Truth of the Gospel is at odds with the natural man. People who flow in the natural and live in the natural and out of their flesh, should be offended by the Gospel. This is a good thing! This is why we need to become born again! This is why there is a change that takes place in us! But when seasoned believers who are in the Spirit are offended, that’s another issue.
Too many ‘ministers’ have been feeding their congregations ‘cheese puffs’, when the church is hungry for a turkey dinner. We give a congregation enough to settle on for a little bit, only for them to not really remember what was said, go out for lunch or coffee after the service and say, “Well, where would you like to go to eat?” rather than stirring people up with biblical truths so that the Word may influence their life.
It doesn’t matter what style of preaching a minister has, as long as he or she flows in the anointing, that is what matters. Every solid sermon should both convict and encourage. We focus on the encouragement side so much that we get a society puffed up in ‘positive thinking,’ that they suddenly realize they no longer believe in conviction, repentance, or sin. After all, we often try to replace the anointing with education. We like to rack up our seminary degrees and tack on “Dr. Rev. Apostle, Bishop” in front of our names and “PhD, D.Min., Ed.D., and M.Div” behind our names, and count our formal education as the logic behind what we know on top of what someone else does. Don’t get me wrong: degrees in themselves are not inherently bad. Education is a great thing. I encourage it. But when we use it to puff ourselves up, this is dangerous. What did the apostle Paul think about his credentials? He said he was a Pharisee of Pharisees, as Hebrew of Hebrews, studied up in Jewish law, and he counted it all as “dung” (KJV) that he may win Christ.
We now have a generation of believers who are not impressed by how much knowledge and information someone says they have. It’s all about whether or not someone has a revelation on the information they know that counts!
Paul says in Galatians 1:10 (NIV): “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Examine your own life. Are you doing what you’re doing, saying what you’re saying, posting what you’re posting, preaching what you’re preaching, to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
We need to check ourselves of this. After all, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:21) We need to be obedient to God.
Rick Renner said this powerful statement: “When you’re concerned about what others think of you, you’ve exalted self-importance and public opinion above God’s opinion in your life” (p. 45)
We’ve gotten so concerned with how we market ourselves to the world and so concerned about what people are going to think of us, rather than simply standing on the Word of God and His truth. The blessing will come when we stand on His truth, not when we are so flustered with our appearance. The truth will defend itself.
What people, even Christians and some ministers cannot grasp is that the Truth is one-sided. I’ve heard this a handful of times: “You are so one-sided.” I would say, “Yes, I am so one-sided. No one comes to the Father, but through Christ.”
To ministers of the Gospel who have watered down God’s Word and cannot stand up for the Truth, I have some news for you: The Apostle Paul says that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” There is one way to heaven. It is through Jesus Christ.
Saying “I’m offended” is pretty much telling the world that you cannot control your own emotions, so everyone else should do it for you.
Take a look at the life of Apostle Paul. He said so many things that offended people. He was stoned, beaten, trodden down upon. By whom? Sinners? Those struggling and in need of the Word of God? No. The religious leaders of his day. Jesus ran into the same issue.
I find it interesting that when people get offended, the never go to the person who supposedly offended them. They go around them to others. They spread their gossip. Soon enough, people start believing in 2nd-string and 3rd-string and 4th-string opinions about what they were never present to witness in the first place!
If you are ‘offended’ with someone, go to them in person, privately. This is the Matthew 18 principle. See Matthew 18:15-17.
Leighton Ford, a prominent Evangelist under Billy Graham, once wrote:
Jesus came from humble parents. There was little in his lineage or early life to suggest the kind of power his peers found in him. In fact, as one of the ancient prophecies had said, God’s leader would be a ‘root out of dry ground’ (Is. 53:2). In years to come the people of his hometown who had known him as a boy would be offended at this background. When they saw his miracles or heard his gracious speech, they sniffed, ‘But isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t this Joseph’s son? Aren’t these his brothers?’ (All said with a wink, a sly elbow in the ribs, and perhaps the unspoken innuendo that his parents were not yet married when his mother became pregnant.) ‘We know his family.’ That was all that was needed to be said by those who dismissed his power. (Transforming Leadership, 124)
Jesus had a tough time in Nazareth. People had their opinions of him. He was in his own hometown! It can be hard for someone to do ministry in their own hometown because the people think they know your background. They may think you’re just starting out. They may think you don’t know much. They may think you don’t have it takes.
But they don’t know what the Lord knows. They don’t know your connections. They don’t know who you’ve sat under and been mentored under.
Don’t wake up tomorrow morning and make yourself a cup of coffee, only to go to your window, open the blinds and say, “Good morning, America! What can I be offended by today?”
Yet this is what America does every morning.
Let’s be the Church – the ekklesia of God – the called out ones.
People’s lives are at stake. Their lives hang in the balance of eternity.
I end this article with a sobering thought: