THE SPIRIT OF OFFENSE
We live in an extremely precarious world, especially for the Christian, it is loaded with offense. One might be an offense free person( not offending anyone] but that does not exempt them from being offended, because there is no such thing as an offense free world.
Jesus declared of the last days “ many will be offended, betray and hate one another...” Matthew 24:10. We are living in this time period that Jesus referred to. The greatest measure of offense happens among Christians. Offense is greatest when expectation is highest, and no group of people on the face of the earth receive higher expectation than Christians.
As simple as this scripture might seem, I believe that Jesus was referring to a chronology of events, not necessarily within society, but within the heart of a person. In other words he was referring to a progression. First a person is offended, then they either betray or feel betrayed, then this finally gives room to hatred. Hatred in its true form is not just a feeling, it’s the absence of love. So a person can actually be exuding hatred even when they feel no actual anger or resentment towards someone. Bible says Absalom hated Amnon yet “ neither showed anger nor resentment towards him” 2 Sam 13:22.
Offense is a spirit, and for spirits to enter doors must be opened. The bible says of John the Baptist that he recognised the deity of Jesus and even proclaimed that "i must decrease as he increases.” Yet John might have had a preconceived idea of what kind of messiah Jesus was to be. When he was locked up in prison, on the brink of execution, he sent people to ask Jesus if indeed " you are the one or should we wait for another." John could not reconcile the Son of God simply standing by and watching as the one he labelled “the greatest prophet" was imprisoned and sentenced to death. We know that John was offended because Jesus responded “blessed is he who is not offended in me...” Matthew 11:6. In other words Jesus was saying to John "you might not understand what I'm doing, but don’t allow what doesn't make sense to breed offense in your heart."
Now anyone who has read this portion of scripture would feel sorry for John because he had some ground for offense, but the question we should ask is, Does anyone genuinely have a right to be offended? We have a free will and so in general terms yes, but as long as one walks with God, they have no grounds whatsoever to be offended. It's a discipline we should all adhere to.
Like John We often have preconceived ideas of how things should be, and Christians are experts at this particular predisposition. These preconceived ideas are what open doors to offense and finally hatred. The wise man says in proverbs, "a brother offended is harder to win than a walled city." Prov 18:19. The reason for this is because offense creates seclusion and resentment.
The interesting thing is that in the second part of my initial scripture Matthew 24:10-11 Jesus says “... THEN many false prophets will come and deceive many...” who are the "many?" . The ones who have been offended.
Offense, betrayal and hatred build a foundation for deception. Contrary to common belief, false prophets don't come because people simply point them out, they come in an unrecognizable form because they feed on offense and especially offended hearts. The mystery here is that one doesn't have to be a prophet in order to be a false prophet. Your pastor, father, best friend can fake on a disposition of a “false prophet" by maximizing on an offended heart and isolating it from what God might be doing not only externally, but within.
The thing with deception is that a person can strongly believe they are right when in truth they are wrong. This deception stands on a foundation of offense and so a “false prophet" magnifies a person's view in order to keep them wrong. We should keep this in mind because Jesus said MANY would be offended.
We get offended by what people say, think and do. The biggest issue in the church is that we have categorized Sin. We label the biggest sins as killing, raping, worshiping men etc and then we have what we refer to as "weaknesses" that in our minds are the minor sins. Every time we point at a fault in someone with the mindset that we are better, we judge ourselves. If someone for example, has seemingly replaced something or someone for God, it is okay to correct them, but the moment we think we are better, that same finger is pointing at us. The reason is because many have replaced God with other things, drugs, family, sleep, money etc. In the eyes of God, there is no difference. “Thou shalt have no other god.. ,” is not limited to that god being a man.
An offended Christian who cannot forgive has forgotten what God forgave him of. One thing is clear, we are all on a learning path and that means we are bound to come across something that offends us or what we believe. I have found that most of what people get offended over is due to only having one side of the story.
This highlights the power of Grace and forgiveness, that are the true remedies of offense. Outside Christ, none of us is better off no matter what we have done. Every time we look at something that doesn't make sense or is very offensive, it should remind us that if God was to use our eyes, we wouldn't meet the standard either, so we must learn to use the eyes of God through Christ. When we approach things in this manner, slowly clarity begins to take shape and the heart begins to reconcile.
Article By: Rabbi Daniel Malinga