Just about everyone is offended these days. And, if you’re not, you were probably just offended by the previous sentence.
“I’m offended that you said I’m offended!”
Simmer down for a minute and consider this calming wisdom from the proverbs of Scripture.
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.” (Proverbs 26:2)
By “curse,” we’re talking insult or an accusation, not a wizarding spell. There are plenty of those curses floating around in the discussion threads, memes and conversations of our world. It’s easy to get offended and courageously thumb out a raging response.
Granted, there are some truly offensive offenses out there. This proverb doesn’t say, “Never be offended.” It simply says that not all offenses are created equal.
Someone says you’re a hateful bigot but you actually aren’t. A comment thread accuses your group of being dunderheads but you actually aren’t. Gossip says you’re not telling the truth but you are.
People are going to throw punches. But not all of those punches are going to land. The wisdom of proverbs says, if the punch doesn’t land, why let it hurt you?
Of course, if a punch does land, maybe there is some truth behind it. We might want to look in the mirror before we look at our keyboard. It’s possible that maybe, just maybe, we might actually need to change.
WHAT? ME? CHANGE? I’M OFFENDED!
Why are we getting so worked up?
The answer might be in a modern-day proverb you might have heard: “If the praise of others defines you, then criticism will destroy you.”
We’re creatures who are constantly searching for security and identity, and we can find it in being right — or being on the side we think is right. Fair enough. But if someone challenges our opinions, we take it as an affront, not just to our opinion, but to our very identity.
If you’re constantly finding yourself offended, your identity might not be as secure as you think.
The Christian faith offers people a new identity from someone who was unfairly accused, arrested, sentenced and executed. If anyone had the right to be offended, it was Jesus. But “even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” (Romans 15:2-3)
All of our punches against God landed on Jesus.
That’s offensive to people who think we don’t need any help. As the 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon said in one of his sermons: “as well might the man whose house is burning be offended with the fireman who roughly puts the fire escape ladder against his window—as that you should be offended with Christ.”
It’s tough to be offended by an emergency rescue, because we recognize our need. It’s easy to be offended by God’s rescue, because we don’t recognize our need.
Listen, if we’re people who get so worked up about the opinions of people we’ve never met, is it possible that we might not be as stable as we think we are? Is it possible that our obsession with offense proves our desperate need for a more stable existence?
Jesus offers an identity that survives incredible insults because it is grounded not in the opinions of others, but in the eternal love of God.
— Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna. Reach him at email@example.com.