I heard something today that Dallas Willard said that really struck me, “A mature Christian is almost impossible to offend.” Within the conversation on The Holy Post podcast in which that I heard this, they went on to say that when we feel the need to quickly come to the defence of something, it is likely a fragile idol to us.
At the outlook, these are ideas that are easy to absorb because we are so practiced at putting ourselves in the shoes of the disciples rather than the pharisees. Realistically, however, we are making an idol out of our religion and diminishing the greatness of our God in the battle for the world.
It is no secret that our world is becoming more hostile and that the tensions are of greater significance each day. At the time of writing, the tension in Israel has just escalated. We can recognize the spiritual and natural implications of the happenings of our world.
The stakes seem so high for every political and social decision in our lives and on a global scale, but how are we called to live in such a climate as Jesus' followers?
Our view of God
If you agree with the idea that we need to come to the defence of things that are fragile or cannot defend themselves, then this should influence how we approach the Lord.
God calls us to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves and tells us that, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew chapter 25, verse 40).
So, we are called to fight and serve, and are told that our doing so is an act of worship and service to the Lord. God, however, does not traditionally fit into the definition of “the least of these.”
Instead, scripture says, “For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” (2 Samuel chapter 22, verses 34 and 35).
That sounds more like a God who is coming to our rescue and that we are ‘the least of these’ in His world. So, God is an all-powerful being, not a fragile idol in need of our defence and protection.
We have all heard the adage, ‘Offense is always taken, never given.’ So, the school counselor in my school feels the need to remind us all that if we are offended, it is our choice to be so. Even if someone hit you with the most devastating burn, it if your choice to be offended.
No one ‘makes’ you feel a certain way. Their words or actions might inspire a typical response for you, but how you respond to other humans is your choice. It is my choice if I have a big temper or not. It is my choice if I hold onto unforgiveness. In the same way, being offended is my choice.
If being offended is my choice, so is my response in offense. Scripture again outlines this for us in describing how we should be angry. We are told to not act unrighteously in our anger, not to never be angry.
God describes Himself as “slow to anger” (Exodus chapter 34, verses 6 and 7), not as never angry. Anger is thus depicted in scripture as a normal human emotion, but one that we should have control over.
Responding to the world
We live in a world that does not function according to the ways of the Lord. Even understanding which policy, cultural practice, law, or norm is aligned with the Lord’s will can be hard to discern. Therefore, we should expect to frequently find ourselves in situations that make us feel uncomfortable and set those Holy Spirit alarm bells blaring.
There is a difference, however, in recognizing something that is unholy, sinful, unrighteous, or not God’s will and attacking the world. My pastor said something last year that has echoed in my head ever since, “No one has even been debated into heaven.”
In combination with understanding what it is to be a mature Christian and the Great Commission, our response to the world around us is really challenged.
Jesus’ last words on Earth commissioned us to go share the good news, not doom and gloom. He was constantly speaking to the way that we are to love, serve, and care for others with a spirit of humility.
God himself is described as holy and just, but also compassionate and slow to anger. So too, we should be. So, when the world or other Christians offend us, we should respond in a way that is consistent with the character of God and the instructions of Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, let us move forward writing a new chapter for the Church. One that is marked by love, active listening, being slow to anger, seeking to learn, and trusting that God is as great and mighty as He says that He is. God defends us, we are just called to represent Him here on Earth.
Petro Lancaster is a school counselor in-training and a newlywed wife to her husband, Ansen, who is a worship pastor at their church in Ohio. Originating from South Africa and growing up in New Zealand has given Petro a love for all things sport and travel, and a heart for the importance of community. Writing is Petro’s way of making sense of the world around her and expressing the words God places on her heart.