The actions of certain pro football player this past week was another reminder of the seemingly never ending need of some people to draw attention to themselves by being “offended”. (Note to said football player: When you get paid $millions to play a game, don’t whine about how unfair life is…as my parents used to preach to me, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”).
People who seek to make themselves out to be victims cause a lot of upheaval, because at the root of such an attitude is the selfish desire to have the spotlight put squarely on ‘ME’. No one else in the world is more important, no one suffers more, no one has more needs than ‘ME’. Everyone LOOK AT ‘ME’.
Of course, such behavior in the world has become the norm and we don’t have to look far to see it. But…but…but…when it comes to the church that Jesus built, well, there’s just no place for such conduct. To be so self-focused as to constantly demand the attention of everyone around you will eventually cause turmoil and disorder in the Lord’s body and that, my friends, is a sin. Additionally, when we are selfish, we couldn’t be further away from Christlikeness. Paul wrote of having the mind of Christ: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippines 2:5-8, NKJV).
As the old saying goes, “Life just isn’t fair!” Things are going to happen and they will happen to us all for God shows no partiality, or as the KJV says, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). In Acts 6, the Hellenists aimed complaints at the Hebrews, claiming that their widows were being neglected daily food. I think it is quite possible that they embellished that charge. Whether they did or didn’t, the effect that their murmuring had was that it threatened to divide the church and it caused the apostles to have to break from their work of prayer and ministry of the Word to deal with the problem. Their wise intervention stopped a potential problem right in the midst of the explosive growth of the church. The apostle’s actions became an example to future church leaders on how to deal with conflict between brothers.
We see another example of some being offended and wanting to lash out and take vengeance in Luke 9:51-56. When Jesus shut down His base of operation in Galilee and “set His face to go to Jerusalem”, the Lord sent messengers into a Samaritan village to prepare for His arrival. Those messengers may well have been the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John. Apparently they were highly offended when the Samaritans refused Jesus and rejected His visit. In their righteous indignation, they requested of Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Jesus, however, rebuked them. Rather than seeking harm to that Samaritan village, Jesus commanded His disciples to move on to the next village. After all, Jesus said that He “did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
To me, the clear message in both of those accounts is that there is way too much work to be done in the kingdom of God to worry about my feelings or whether or not I’m offended. Jesus and the cross that bore Him on Calvary have always offended the world and will continue to do so. Our job is not, in turn, to worry about being offended by others. Instead, we need to simply move on to the next village. There is work to be done and Christians, the truth is that we don’t have time to be offended.