What Is Offence?
Offence today is politically and socially loaded. It is an increasing currency we display, trade and use as a weapon in defence and attack. It has also become a tool used to control people.
We either tiptoe around unwilling to speak truth because we fear offending someone; or singly or collectively we beat our truth into each other no matter if it’s appropriate, timely, helpful and Godly or not.
We all know offence produces a high emotional charge, but what is it really?
Offence is an extreme form of highlighting for us where change is needed.
It happens when something within me is being challenged to change. My world view, my personal ideology, my theology, my attitude, my values, my understanding of self, my emotional foundation; something in the core of who I am is being challenged.
In the moment I don’t know either if I want to- or if it is safe to- explore the need for change, explore the reason behind my insecurity.
It is an unexpected visceral (deep inward) response and the first thing we jump to do is protect ourselves just in case we are in physical danger.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
Jesus & Offence
Jesus was never offended. He was never offended because when He was challenged, He was secure. He knew who He was. His emotional, Spiritual, intellectual, social and physical foundations were fully secure in His relationship with God.
Nothing of who Jesus was, stood in a shaky position or was hooked into something or someone other than God.
He carried no grudges, no matter what was said or done to Him. This doesn’t mean He was unemotional, we know He was fully emotional. He felt the pain of Lazarus’ death- then He dealt with it. He entered the celebration of the wedding feast, with more wine! He got angry when it was necessary, but His feedback was measured and delivered in appropriate ways- insulting ways sure- but they were all thought through.
Following Jesus, living the Narrow Way means we must give up our right to be offended. It belongs in the old system, the system of retribution, legalism and law.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:17,38-39 (NIV)
How Do We Break Free Of Offence?
The opposite of offence is not the lack of emotion. It is also not the ability to switch off, to be able to say “I don’t care”, to build a wall around ourselves or other protected, sealed off areas within ourselves.
In fact, this is the worst thing we can do. To cut ourselves off from emotion is to cut ourselves off from an essential part of what makes us “in the image of God”.
Instead, to break free of offence we must deliberately seek deep healing.
It is something which requires us to focus on our intimacy with God and work with Him to ensure every brick in the foundation of who we are is completely secure in Him.
We must pursue deep-seated, complete, foundational security; saturate ourselves in a relationship with All Of God and be practiced in turning immediately to Him at the first hint of an emotional hook or pang which would seek to upend us or send us to offence.
This means work. It means facing our hooks, our baggage and being vulnerable with God when we might prefer to hold onto offence and nurse it into a grudge, or turn it into a club and beat the ‘offender’ with it…
It doesn’t matter whether it is a political opinion or a childhood emotion, our underlying hooks need to be healed.
We must pursue these things to deal with them. Truly deal with them, not enjoy them or the attention they might bring. There is no point identifying a place of change only to hold onto it like a safety blanket. Jesus knows how to help us through these things in a way that is safe.
He will not lead us to places that He has not already filled with His Presence.
It will require walking through the process of forgiveness, taking responsibility for our behaviour and our responses, being an adult, recognising other people as individuals with rights, responsibilities and as complete equals in Christ- no matter where they are along the process of salvation.
Every situation we come into, we must be able to approach it like Jesus, completely open to the Holy Spirit, being able to hear the voice of God, and follow His direction, love with His heart, knowing whoever it is we are relating to at the time, is experiencing God in us.
The advantage for us, is we come through this process with freedom.
Freedom and Peace.
God Bless You Very Much