Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Unhappy Whiners And Easily Offended Victims Misuse Matthew 18

I get beat up (figuratively speaking) quite often for how I supposedly OFFEND people. Not for any good, legitimate reasons like foul body odor or using vulgar language in church or picking my nose at the dinner table. No, apparently I offend people because of what I think or, worse yet, what they think I think. No kidding. Some people just presume to know what I think and then get offended by it. I am a political conservative and a fundamental, Bible-believing Christian. That naturally offends people. But, to make matters worse, I also have a satirical, sometimes slightly irreverent, and often sarcastic sense of humor. That really, REALLY, REALLY offends people. Did you ever notice how many people, especially liberals, just don’t know how to "laff" anymore?

It happened again not long ago. It was implied that I had sinned against some weaker brothers because of some harmless, innocuous, and impersonal bit of sophomoric humor. It seems that, even though it had nothing to do with them, they just didn't appreciate the levity. They claimed that they were "OFFENDED." So I was scolded for the humor. Well, I suppose I could have been offended by that but, guess what; NOBODY really cares when conservatives are offended.

I am neither an etymologist nor a theologian so I really can’t speak authoritatively on this subject BUT, I think crying “offense” and employing Matthew 18 everytime you don’t like something is a sloppy and inappropriate application of the biblical principle. Not only that, but it makes you look like a whiney little cry baby.

Unfortunately, here is a contemporary definition of the verb, offend: “To hurt somebody’s feelings, or cause resentment, irritation, anger, or displeasure.” Did you see that? In our overly sensitive, sissy culture, an offense occurs whenever our actions cause resentment or irritation or anger or displeasure or wounded feelings. In my case, the offended persons' feelings were wounded simply because I happened to hold DIFFERENT IDEAS from theirs about a particular issue. Too many weak people today feel offended about almost everything. For that reason, we can’t even decide whether or not we should wear cologne. Either way, someone might be irritated or displeased. But I really don't think that is what Jesus had in mind when He talked about offenses.

Our contemporary definition is NOT the biblical definition of the word “offend.” As near as I can tell, when Scripture warns us about offending a little one or a weaker brother, it always refers to actions that cause them to sin or to depart from the truth or to weaken their faith. On that subject, John Wesley commented this way, “…see that ye offend them not; that is, that ye turn them not out of the right way, neither hinder them in it” (emphasis is mine). That kind of real offense, either by our doctrine or our liberty, has the affect of doing great (sometimes irreparable) damage to the faith of an immature person to the end that it may cause relational difficulties with God, result in judgment, or may even result in adverse consequences (like eternal damnation). For that reason, Jesus said of the offenders that it would be better for them to be publicly executed.

So, while some brothers were supposedly, "seriously offended," I wonder how many of them were genuinely lured into sin or eternal damnation by a little harmless jocularity.

On the other hand, there are several things that frequently occur in the church today that really are offensive. Here are a few:
  1. Easy believism. It is offensive when we encourage people to repeat a simple, anemic, unrepentant prayer to ask Jesus into their lives and then convince them that they are saved and safe and eternally secure when there has been no real new birth.

  2. Cheap grace. It is offensive when we allow people to believe that they can be positionally right with God while continuing in their sins without consequence; that Jesus paid the penalty for all their sins without telling them that God expects them to stop sinning.

  3. Unscriptural or irreverent worship. It is offensive when people are led to believe that God is pleased with them just the way they are and that they can approach Him with mindless, “touchy feely” emotionally stimulating expressions of so called worship without an awesome fear of His sovereignty and apart from obedience which is His requirement for true worship.

  4. Ecumenical accommodation. It is offensive when we do not identify and separate ourselves from false doctrine and false teachers but join hand in hand as we skip down the ecumenical happy trail of brotherly love singing Kum Ba Yah with legalists, apostates, modernists and liberals.
These are real offenses to those who are unregenerate or immature in the Faith. They are truly stumblingblocks that could result in their falling away or missing salvation altogether.


Anonymous said...

People who "get offended" by what other people think are full of pride. They are self-centered, worrying about their own "feelings." Clearly, having one's feelings hurt is not the Scriptural meaning of an offense. Those who are walking with the Lord will not be offended. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (Psalm 119:165)

Anonymous said...

Great post.
It seems the easily "offended" wimpy people are the Judaizers of today.

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12 TNIV)