It’s probably a given that at some point in your life you will offend someone. Today, the chances of offending have gone up drastically. I think another name for the time we live in could be ‘the era of personal offense.’ It seems that people get offended quite easily today, and you must be very careful what you say.
I know that preachers must be careful because when you are telling people the truth from a pulpit, you must make sure there is no offensive language in your remarks. Once, I was told that I should never address heterosexual sin in the same sentence as homosexual sin. I was making the point that all sexual sin is a perversion of what God intended for our relationships. That, of course, was offensive to some, and I got an earful following the sermon. Some preachers have become so afraid to be bold about issues that they never talk about things that might divide the congregation. Some preachers are afraid because they don’t want to be victims of cancel culture and therefore make enemies of the mission field they are called to reach. So, the issue is not easy for most churches, and in order not to offend anyone we just won’t talk about areas that would offend anyone. Here is when truth is being preached on the sins of the flesh:
Galatians 5 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When those Scriptures are properly preached they could be offensive to some. Anytime you are speaking about sin … personal, corporate, national sin … you will be offensive. No one likes to be judged on how they are living their lives. They say people should never judge you for anything … it’s my life, and I’m entitled to live it any way I want to live it … so preacher back off. You indeed have the freedom to live your life as you choose, and I would never argue against that. However, in the same way, a medical professional tells you that you are shortening your life by the habits of smoking, drinking, and eating poorly, you might be open to taking that as constructive advice and not being offended. Yet, if a preacher tells you that your lifestyle will probably keep you out of the kingdom of God … now that is offensive. Isn’t that the same constructive advice? One you see as helpful … the other is purely judgmental. It’s the nature of dealing with human sin.
With that being said, the nature of the Gospel is offensive. The Gospel makes people uncomfortable because they have to face the truth of God and the standards He has for you to make it into heaven. As the Apostle Paul tells us behavior matters … certain behavior will never get you into heaven. That is the sole purpose of Jesus. Believing in Him gets you into heaven, and when you choose to believe in Him your behavior will change.
The point I am making has to do with not deliberately trying to offend anyone, but being faithful to preach the Gospel with its full message of salvation in Jesus. If His message of salvation is accepted, it will begin the process of making a disciple out of those who come to faith. Being offended is replaced with conviction … conviction begins the process of becoming more like Jesus. Change is only positive if that change moves us closer to being like Christ. Jesus teaches us that if we are offended, we are not only to live in forgiveness, but also to pray for people who offend us, use us, or even persecute us.
Life is full of offenses, and we need to learn to use each offense to strengthen our discipline of love and forgiveness toward those who offend us. The story of Jesus is about our offenses toward God, and He nailed our offenses to the Cross. All our sinful offenses toward God were not judged as they should have been, in a court of law, but they were forgiven on a Cross. That is how God took how we offended Him as an example of how we are to live our lives in the same kind of forgiveness toward others who offend us.
We will get offended, we will be misunderstood, we will be accused, and we will be persecuted for the faith we are living out. However, regardless of the offense, our calling isn’t to surrender to the offense but to continue to be faithful to the Gospel and stand firm to defend it. People who hate God will hate you, and so be prepared to forgive and live in mercy with the hope that those who are offensive toward God will one day find God’s forgiveness for themselves. God says I desire mercy:
Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler